Indian IT union in Karnataka recognized, but companies say it will fizzle out

Earlier this summer, Forum For IT Employees (FITE) was getting a lot of media attention. This was during the peak of 'Indian IT Layoff' debates of 2017.

Now comes news that a state government in India is recognizing the "Karnataka State IT/ITeS Employees Union (KITU)"


Over the past decade, India’s information technology (IT) industry has seen multiple attempts to mobilise the workforce to form an active trade union. The efforts have finally yielded results, with Karnataka recognising the Karnataka State IT/ITeS Employees Union (KITU) as a workers’ body to protect their interests. The development comes at a time when the IT sector is facing its worst disruption in a decade. However, top executives have questioned the significance of a trade union in the sector.

In 2005, UNITES, a global trade union for IT workers affiliated to IBM, opened its Bengaluru office and looked to mobilise technology employees. However, the effort did not take off because soon after the financial meltdown in the US that led to a recession, global firms started to outsource work to Indian companies and established their own captives. The result was a job boom in the sector, with exports of nearly $118 billion in 2016-17. The sector, besides paying higher wages, focused on people welfare, building campuses, and employing chief fun officers to engage employees.

In the last two years, when IT firms, in their attempt to cut costs, sacked employees, many of them moved the labour courts in Chennai, Hyderabad, Pune, and Bengaluru against the respective companies. While some got relief, others have struggled. Trade bodies such as the IT Employees Wing of the New Democratic Labour Front in Chennai, and the Federation of IT Employees have also emerged in the same period.

“In the past, IT companies were paying higher salaries than other industries. But now, there is large-scale sacking, and salaries in smaller companies are lower than the minimum wages of Rs 18,000 a month,” said Vineeth Vakil, general secretary of KITU.

Article from Business Standard

Other perspectives

Moneycontrol asks: Did Karnataka govt shoot itself in the leg by clearing the IT union?
Just when the dust was settling in the rattled information technology (IT) space Karnataka government has decided to stir up the sector. It became the first state to recognise trade union in the IT sector.


Rediff.com : Why Bengaluru now has an IT union - Over the past decade, India's information technology industry has seen multiple attempts to mobilise the workforce to form an active trade union.

The efforts have finally yielded results, with Karnataka recognising the Karnataka State IT/ITeS Employees Union as a workers' body to protect their interests.

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