The Union of IT & ITES Employees (UNITE) is resisting an illegal retrenchment drive allegedly undertaken by Virtusa and has sought immediate government intervention. Virtusa, the Massachusetts-based IT company, which has locations across India in Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Telangana, Maharashtra and Haryana, is forcing employees to resign from December 11, affected employees have alleged. Virtusa’s move appears to be the result of the impending recession in the United States and the United Kingdom.
On Wednesday, UNITE took to Twitter and wrote, “Hundreds of employees are being forced to resign by @virtusacorp at Chennai office. Forcing employees to resign is illegal and unethical. Stop illegal retrenchment. @labourministry upholds the law of the land. Virtusa employees ignore the HRs’ hypocrisy and refuse to res…”
An affected employee told TNM, “The HR told me that they will not provide me with an experience certificate if I refuse to quit and that they will blacklist me. When I revolted, they also said that they will withhold three months’ salary.” The aggrieved employee further added that employees from across all the firms in India were flown down to Chennai on November 28, and were asked to undertake an exam where they were asked to write a code on paper with a pen. “It is absurd to ask us to write a code on paper. Now when we are resisting this forced resignation, they are citing that we didn’t perform well in that exam,” the employee said.
According to UNITE, the employees are being forced on the grounds of getting black-marked in the National Skill Registry. The Union has also cited that the employers are guilt-tripping the employees for not being able to provide for or sustain them in their jobs. A complaint of freshers and new employees at Virtusa being forced to resign within two years, post which they have been slapped with a charge of Rs 2 lakh for forgoing an illegal bond has also surfaced.
An aggrieved employee from Virtusa added that the company is also threatening employees by citing that their relieving formalities will be made difficult if they refuse to quit and that the company would dismiss their recruitment process in other companies on the basis of having used malpractices during background verification.
Alagunambi Welkin, UNITE’s General Secretary, confirmed with TNM that at least 400 employees of Virtusa have been forced to resign from across the country and that the numbers in the coming days could go up to 750. Apart from stating that the union has launched a campaign against Virtusa’s move, he added, “We are asking employees to refuse to resign if they receive a call from Human Resources. We have raised a formal complaint with the Tamil Nadu Labour Commissioner as well.” UNITE has also demanded that all the terminated employees must be reinstated.
Additionally, the employees who had to face the brunt of this move have alleged that the Human Resource (HR) department has sided with the company and has not provided any “acceptable solution.” They alleged that the HR “brutally threatened the employees without paying any consideration to the loss of their livelihoods.” When TNM reached out to several HRs from Virtusa, they refused to help us get in touch with an official concerned for a comment.
Media reports suggest that Freshworks has also laid off employees citing macroeconomic pressures. In particular, employees from marketing, sales, and engineering teams at Freshworks were laid off or asked to move to a different department. Many of their employees were allegedly warned to improve their performance and retained under the Performance Improvement Plan (PIP). Chargebee, Salesforce and Zendesk are some other Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) companies that had recently announced layoffs.
Virtusa had previously laid off 300 employees from Asia in 2008, in which a majority were fresh recruits. Media reports also claim that the company laid off 80 trainees in 2005. However, the reason for these layoffs remains unclear.