Trade Union in IT Sector

by anil on January 20, 2007

Our country which missed the industrial revolution has got another chance of a lifetime to catch up with the developed nations–that is the IT industry. We are a recognised force in the IT sector and an acknowledged competitor in this new and emerging sector.

But this is a newly acquired status. We need to work hard to maintain it. A carefully-thought out game plan is required to sustain this position (as this industry acquires momentum, runs up to its peak and till it dies out). Then only it can make any substantial change in the economic scenario of our country. That means we should be able to maintain this cash inflow at least for the next twenty five years.

We get IT contracts from outside mainly because it’s cheap to get the work done here. Besides this financial advantage, there are other factors which help to run this business smooth such as effective communication, reliability of companies, predictable turn-around time, etc.. If any of these parameters is not met, a business transaction will become infeasible. Or India will become a bad destination for sending out work to. And we will miss this opportunity too to become a developed nation (in 2004-05 ITES alone aggregated revenues to the tune of USD 5.2 billion).

So that is the context. Now lets come to the point. There is a proposal coming from the Centre for Indian Trade Unions (CITU) which argues that IT professionals are coolies of the information age and they are being exploited. So it needs labour union, they say. Following that suggestion the state IT policy of Kerala released a few days ago sports a green flag for trade union in the IT sector.

They are coolies of the information age. I agree with that concept; it’s true in the sense that they are many in number, they work like an army and for prolonged hours. But they ignore one fact: they are also paid the highest salaries. More over, they are skilled laborers and there are plenty of opportunities around. If he or she doesn’t like a place he or she can move into another. If they work for prolonged hours, they are paid for that. If they are not, there are many employers they can find who will.

I agree that there are good guys and bad guys. But to control the bad guys union is not a good idea which knows only primitive methods to tackle issues. It can affect the functioning of the business and eventually the image of India as the most preferred IT destination.

We can resort to other means to protect IT and ITES professionals, if necessary. We have a government to look after such situations. We have a Ministry of Labor which can appoint a watch guard, for example. It is government’s job to protect its citizens. We should try out that first before bringing in a parallel mechanism such as trade union.

It would be worth remembering that we need to sustain our status India has been enjoying in the world IT sector. India needs to grow at this pace for a few more decades. Think about it.

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