[On the eve of the National Confederation of Unites Founding Conference at Hyderabad we mailed a set of questions to Mr Karthik Shekhar, General Secretary and we are publishing his response verbatim. UNITES represents software professionals and seeks to organise them.]
NATIONAL CONFEDERATION OF UNITES
founding conference to be held in Hyderabad on 30th November at
Hotel Minerva Grand, Sarojini Devi Road, Secundrabad. UNITES is the first union
started for benefit of employees working INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY sector. UNITES
is functioning from Six states at present having gained the confidence of IT
employees we are now having the founding conference for the creation of
National Confederation UNITES of all the affiliates.
1. Tell us about UNITES Professionals. Tell
us when it was established and what made you establish this union. Tell us
about some incidents that prompted you….
In early 2004, UNI Apro
launched an organising drive targeted at ITES Professionals such as BPO and
Call Center Professionals in India, Philippines, Sri Lanka and Malaysia. The
project in India to organise these professionals into trade union, known as the
CBPOP project was launched in July 2004 with the establishment of two service
centers - one in Hyderabad and the other in Bangalore headed by J S R Prasad. A
experienced unionists with the Telecom Sector in India for more than 25
The basic strategy of the
project is to establish contact, convince (create awareness and
appreciation of trade unionism) connect (provide network for these employees)
and finally to consolidate such network of professionals into trade unions
- at the enterprise, regional and national levels.
A focused effort (dealing
with disputes and through surveys and studies) to establish contacts and
convincing (solidarity support and educational and information activities) such
employees about the need for them to establish or join trade unions. They have
expanded their activities to New Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai. So far, they have
established contact with more than 2,000 employees in the various cities. The
large majority of them are convinced of the need to establish trade unions.
This is confirmed by a survey conducted by CNBC India in December 2004
- where more than 53% of such employees contacted, recognized the need for
trade unions to represent their interest.
Accordingly as planned,
the CBPOP is assisting these ITES professionals in Bangalore, Hyderabad,
Chennai, Mumbai and New Delhi to register their unions at the state and local
level as is the case for those employed by HSBC. At this stage, we have firm commitment from
some 1,500 professionals to form the unions at the various levels.
2. You are going to have a major conference
in Hyderabad on Nov 29 and 30. Tell us about the theme and the issues the
conference will debate and discuss.
UNITES representing the professionals in the IT sector
firmly believes that the IT & ITES Companies should conform to highest
ethical professional standards. UNITES as a policy always insists on their
membership in the IT sector to be committed to such ethical values in their
3. What are the major issues on employee
relations front before the IT and ITES employees.
A sustainable IT enabled services industry in India; needs a
different employment relations approach to arrest of human capital – NATIONAL
CONFEDRATION UNITES vision is to make it happen
· health and safety strategy,
· education and training and
· retraining policies and
· how to maintain employment stability
· income security for employees
ü Right to work and to better qualifications for work.
ü Right to organize, to bargain collectively and engage in
legal concerted activity.
ü Right to a redress of just grievances and to due process
under the law.
ü Right to enjoy decent employment, wages, and benefits
including work conditions mandated by law and/or negotiated under the CBA.
ü Right to secure and healthy work environment, and social
protection for all; and
ü Right to equal opportunity and non-discrimination at work.
On the other hand, trade unions must
recognize that basic employers’ rights include the following:
Right to freely choose the business
they want to invest in, including the right to shop closures,
ü Right to just returns on investments; and
Right to manage business freely in
accordance with the exigencies of the market, including the inherent right to
manage work and work processes and to discipline employees subject only to the
limitations imposed by law, CBA and fair play.
In this connection, we recognized the
perpetual need of the industry and enterprises to adopt appropriate
competitiveness adjustment measures needed to remain viable and profitable.
Such measures may include measures affecting the organization, production
set-up, personnel deployment and job design, among others.
We insist that consideration for
competitiveness adjustment measures should be subjected to extensive
discussions by both the concerned employers and unions on alternative ways of
enhancing business survival and viability without resorting to job-displacing
The other critical counter measures
could be the development of competitiveness measures in the form of programs to
support higher productivity and decent work, through the use of technology and
development of the skills of workers and strengthening labor-management
In India, UNI-APRO affiliates especially National confederation of UNITES has supported the development of the IT sector, based on equitable and
sustainable paradigm alternatives that will not only advance the interests of
employers but also the employees – in term of decent terms of employment and
condition of work. National
confederation of UNITES is endeavouring to work in close partnership with CII &
NASSCOM its member companies to achieve this ideal that will benefit all
parties and contribute to the
development of the national economy.
4. What are the changes you are seeking? In
labour laws or otherwise.
The aversion and hostility to labour movement and ignoring
of International Labour Standards whether in India or abroad is unlikely to be
helpful in the long run. As insidious alienation of professional staff can
cause all kinds of problems for companies. With economic downturn, loss
of jobs within India and abroad in the IT/ITES sector it is time IT/ITES
companies reviewed their labour policies and take the working professionals
into confidence and allow them unionize and adopt progressive pro labour
Some reforms are directed at the workers and the trade
unions, not at the authors of contaractulaisation of workforce. It is perplexing to see that the so-called
stabilization measures being pushed are aimed at the dismantling of the safety
nets such as the ESI, Provident Fund.
On the other hand, global competition is used by the
exporting countries as the argument to squeeze workers’ wages, benefits and
basic rights such as freedom of association and collective bargaining.
Let me conclude by reminding all of us that the centre of
production and value creation lies in the relationship of people at work. Making that relationship stable, cooperative
and secure under enlightened win-win rules is a challenge that the trade unions
are prepared to accept.
trade union movement, particularly the trade unions that UNI Apro represents
wants to help shape a People First industry where all enjoy a decent standard
of living in a caring and sharing society.
use this as an opportunity to create a truly people-centred industry. We can
make this happen with the solidarity and combined efforts of all the social
this regard we would like discussion and hopefully a section in Manifesto will
dedicated jointly which will look at ICT industry and the laws applicable to in
the communication era.
CONFEDERATION OF UNITES (NCU) WILL CONTINUE THE CAMPAIGNS STARTED AND WILL
STIVE TO BECOME THE VOICE OF ICT EMPLOYEES
Labels: IT/ ITES Union, UNITES, UNITES Conference Hyderabad