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State tackles ‘bonded labour’ at IT cos, BPOs

June 13, 2019 04:59 AM

courtesy  MIRROR JUNE 13

State tackles ‘bonded labour’ at IT cos, BPOs
This is the first time that government has formed a panel to look into workers’ grievances in IT sector, call centres
Labour Dept asked to issue notices to firms for retaining workers’ original documents for over a month, unfair service contracts, and not paying severance allowance
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Three months after its formation, the state government-appointed committee tasked with looking into complaints of exploitation in the information technology (IT) sector is cracking down on companies that withhold severance pay of retrenched employees, have unfair bond periods for new hires, and keep original documents of campus recruits for years.

At the first meeting on Tuesday of the IT sector engineers and employees grievance redressal committee, which will also look into complaints from the BPO sector, it asked the state labour department to direct IT companies across the state to stop enforcing “unfair” bond terms and to return the original documents of new recruits in 30 days.

The panel, which couldn’t convene earlier owing to the Lok Sabha election, has received several complaints from employees about unfair recruitment clauses—many are asked to pay a penalty of Rs 75,000-1 lakh if they quit before completion of the bond period, a small portion of their salary is withheld as deposit till end of bond term, and are not paid the first month’s salary in lieu of the deposit.

The committee proposed a special legislation to regulate jobs and enforce labour laws in IT companies.

“This was the first meeting of the committee and many issues were discussed. We have asked the labour department to issue notices to firms against which we have received complaints from retrenched employees who were sacked unfairly,” said Devang Dave, a member of the committee who is also the national convener of Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha, the BJP’s youth wing. “The IT sector is one of the biggest job providers for youngsters and many of them face problems during recruitments and with the bonds that they are asked to serve. We will look into all of these complaints.”

The 10-member committee is led by Maharashtra Labour Commissioner Rajeev Jadhav and has government-nominated members from Mumbai, Pune and Nagpur. There are also representatives from trade bodies—National Association of Software and Services Companies, and the Maharashtra Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Agriculture.

A senior official from the state labour department said the panel’s mandate is to take up grievances and recommend measures to the state government. “This sector is the most sought-after job market in the state now. But because of tough work conditions and often unregulated job terms, a lot of employees are facing problems.”

Dave said the committee will meet once a month. “We have started looking into complaints. We have received many cases where employees were sacked without notice and without any severance package. We will soon issue notices to the companies concerned and seek an explanation.”

He said the labour department will shortly set up an online portal to allow IT sector employees to raise complaints

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