About 100 HCL fresh recruits who have been denied jobs by HCL for about a year now staged a day long hunger strike on 30th March at Freedom Park (protest point) in Bangalore. All the promises of joining dates made by the company HR have proven to be false all along and it remains to be seen whether the labour department does indeed take action against HCL as per its 5th April deadline. According to the Press release statement by the HCL recruits, police had denied them permission to protest outside HCL premises. The protest was supported by AIITEA, Free Software Movement and IT/ ITES Employees center, along with the some of the Central Trade Unions like AITUC & CITU.
This is not an isolated incident particular to HCL, but many of the well known IT companies have not been able to fulfill their campus recruitments which is only now coming to light. The HCL protest is unprecedented in the sense that for the first time ever an IT company in India witnessed a protest outside its premises in many of the urban cities on 11th March.
The issue has only exposed the fault lines within the much heralded sector. One it clearly shows that the economic downturn worldwide has started to hit the Indian IT industries, which the IT bosses were in complete denial all these years. Second, the high levels of exploitation within the industry is now coming out more openly as the IT bosses try to squeeze out as much out of its workers to maintain their profit levels.
One thing that the HCL recruits must remember is that even if the HCL management decides to take them on board, their positions within the company will remain insecure as the management will try to target these employees for denting the company’s image. HCL in particular is known for its highly exploitative work conditions with salaries (though relatively high when compared to the ordinary Indian working class) certainly not matching with the levels of employee exploitation, stress, shift hours and harassment by the top management.
Only by way of unionization, solidarity of all IT workers and challenging the IT bosses will the IT workers ever hope to secure some of their basic rights. Even more outrageous is the exemption that government of Karnataka has been granting these IT companies that removes them from the purview of the labour laws of the land, which is set to expire this April. Only by way of challenging any moves to extent these anti-worker laws can any headway be made to challenge the bleak prospects facing the IT employees in the future.
New Socialist Alternative (CWI-India) is in complete solidarity with the strike of the HCL workers and feels that democratic unionisation is the only way forward for the IT workers to fight for better working conditions and also to win the fundamental rights of Trade Unions to organise in their workplaces and strike if need be.
Only this way can the IT youth gel their social weight within the society and strive along with other radical sections who are fighting to establish a system of social equality, without any form of oppression based on class, caste, gender, sexuality, nationality, language and religion.