IT major Cognizant has been accused of executing large-scale layoffs in India after it reportedly benched over 18,000 employees. Making the allegation and condemning the company, the Karnataka State IT/ITES Employees Union (KITU) has initiated legal proceedings against the management of Cognizant.
According to KITU, Cognizant is laying off employees under the pretext of 'effectively managing workforce utilisation'.
“Thousands of employees all over India are going to be the victims of this. Karnataka State IT/ITES Employees Union (KITU) strongly condemns this illegal and inhuman decision taken by the management of Cognizant,” it said in a statement on Thursday.
KITU says that as per labour laws, companies that employ more than 100 employees should first obtain approval from the Labour Department in order to execute layoffs.
“Rebranding a layoff by arguing that employees voluntarily resigned when they were, in fact, forced to resign, is also against the law,” KITU General Secretary Ullas Chamalaparambil said.
Ullas told TNM that through few of the laid off employees, a legal notice has been sent to the company, and 14 days from now, if they do not receive an acceptable response from Cognizant, they will be approaching the Labour Department to escalate the same.
Meanwhile, KITU has urged all the affected employees to refuse to resign if asked to do so and has extended its support to laid off employees. It also urged the company to respect ‘law of the land’.
Karnataka State IT/ITeS Employees Union #KITU opened a Help Desk to support the affected employees of Cognizant— Sooraj Nidiyanga (@SNidiyanga) July 2, 2020
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“KITU demands urgent intervention from the government to this matter and request to take stricter actions against the management who violated the labour laws. KITU opened a Help Desk to support the affected employees of Cognizant,” it further added.
According to Ullas, several employees from Bengaluru reached out to them, while similar unions in Chennai and Pune also had employees approaching them. Ullas claims that employees who were benched, as well as employees working on projects were being pressured to resign.
Responding to KITU’s claims, a Cognizant spokesperson denied allegations of mass layoffs and said in a statement that performance management is a normal process across all companies in the IT industry, including Cognizant.
“While Cognizant does not comment on rumours and speculations in the marketplace, we would like to clarify that recent third-party allegations regarding a specific number of job actions are not accurate, not based on facts, and were not announced by Cognizant. Cognizant continues to hire at all levels in India and globally. Likewise, the company continues to invest heavily in upskilling and reskilling its employees at scale in newer digital technologies, including cloud, analytics, digital engineering and IoT, where the company is seeing above industry-average growth,” the company spokesperson said.