15000 Pink Slips In The Tech Corridor And Still Counting

on Monday, 19 January 2015. Posted in News

15000 Pink Slips In The Tech Corridor And Still Counting

15000 Pink Slips In The Tech Corridor And Still Counting

Though Altisource did not issue any official statement, the news spread like wildfire, triggering panic among the already jittery workforce.

However, the development was confirmed after Bangalore Mirror spoke to a couple of Altisource employees. "Even in my wildest dreams, I had not imagined I would be thrown out of my job...my world turned topsy-turvy in just 20 minutes when I was summoned in the afternoon and given the march orders. I did not know how to react. I could see some of my sacked colleagues crying aloud, some begging with the HR personnel to give them time and some reacting angrily," said Rohit (name changed on request), an assistant manager with seven years of work experience.

Rohit's dilemma now is to break the news to his family and deal with the aftermath. "What do I tell my family? How will I pay my car and housing loans?" He is worried about landing another job.

He can draw measure of comfort from numbers, however. According to industry trackers, at least 15,000 techies have lost their jobs in Bengaluru in the last one year. "The frequency of layoffs has increased. From IBM, Dell, Cisco to HP, almost all the big companies have cut jobs. The latest being the TCS layoffs, which has culminated in techies hittting the streets to protest," says an industry tracker. In fact, sacked TCS employees have planned a protest meeting in front of the Town Hall on Saturday.

If losing their jobs wasn't bad enough, being terminated for 'under performance', widely brandished by most companies, seems like the unkindest cut. Companies, though, maintain they are cutting jobs as part of market expansion and growth strategy which involves getting rid of redundant employees. Altisource, which has reportedly cut down jobs at its facility in Boston, US, issued a statement there that read: "After a comprehensive process to evaluate the most effective way to pursue continued expansion in light of changing market conditions, we have made the difficult but necessary decision to realign our employee base with the growth opportunities in front of Altisource."

Meanwhile, its employees in Bengaluru have lashed out at the "inhuman and cruel" treatment. "First of all there was no prior notice. We were just asked to leave immediately. Two months compensation is just not enough. If the company cannot accommodate us then why did it have a massive recruiting drive just two months back?," said Kaushal (name changed).

Bangalore Mirror wrote to Altisource for its comments, but the company did not respond.

The Karnataka government has taken note of the retrenchment and the rising fear factor among the city's tech population. While labour minister, Parameshwara Naik, admitted several tech companies were seeking permission to issue pink slips, Information Technology minister, S R Patil, said it was nonetheless "a major cause of worry as we want to compete with Silicon Valley (in the USA)." Patil said they would soon convene a meeting with industry representatives to discuss the issue.

Nasscom downplayed the fears stating it was a part of the routine clean-up process at software companies. Ashok Pamidi, regional head, Nasscom said Karnataka was facing a demand-supply challenge. "Right now, Bangalore needs 46,000 skilled and job-ready people to work in the industry. The reason for the layoffs in individual companies might be because of completion of a project or internal reshuffling. The industry is doing well and there are no signs of a slowdown," he said.

A dangerous bell curve, says ITEC
"IT employees would never have thought of 'bell curve' being so dangerous. Companies have been terminating employees with a 'C' rating, which stands for 'met expectations'. But even when the employees who get the lowest rating are terminated, the termination would not stand the test of law if they are not given a chance. While employees are terminated for "skill mismatch", companies like TCS go on recruiting new employees for the same skill. It is high time IT employees muster the courage to challenge these unethical and illegal practices by companies. IT Employees Centre (ITEC) asks the respective governments to intervene in the issue immediately to protect the right of employees to work and also to ensure transparent processes in the IT industry in the long run." (ITEC is a rights body for techies)

More job cuts on the anvil?
The labour department appears to have been aware of the layoff wave in IT companies in the city. Speaking to Bangalore Mirror, Labour Minister, PT Parameshwara Naik said, "Every company has to obtain prior permission or keep the department in the loop about intended lay offs. Some companies have taken permission and informed us about their decision to lay off employees." When asked about the details of such companies, Naik refused to divulge the information saying the companies came under the purview of the IT, BT department.

'Not a 2008-like situation'
"The layoffs happening right now are part of the clean-up process. Every company does this every two to three years when they ask non-performing employees to leave. Also, one of the operations of Altisource has been transferred to US. While I am not sure of the exact number, an operation can have 200 to 300 employees who might have been sacked. However, there is no need to worry. The IT industry is doing well. We are not in situation like 2008 where people will be sitting jobless for a year. People will find jobs immediately. If not in Bangalore, they will surely land jobs in Mysore, Hubli or Mangaluru. It is just that people will move from Company A to Company B." —Kris Lakshmikant, Managing Director, Head Hunters India

CM to convene meet with industry honchos
Taking cognisance of the massive retrenchment, a worried state government has decided to call a meeting with industry honchos to take stock of the situation and put in place damage-control measures. Speaking to Bangalore Mirror, Karnataka's IT/BT minister, S R Patil, said, "The layoffs are shocking, especially since they come at a time when the state is planning to compete with the Silicon Valley in the US by attracting more investors and also creating an employee-friendly environment." Patil expressed concern that the largescale pink slips would send out the wrong message and spread panic among the workforce. Stressing that the government was serious about tackling the problem, he said the CM would soon address a meeting of representatives from the industry and laid off workers, besides government officials, to discuss the way forward. "A decision will be taken on safeguarding the social security of techies."