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IT workers well taken care of, no need for union: Infosys ex-CFO Balakrishnan

LiveMint logoLiveMint 30-05-2017 PTI

Hyderabad: Employee unions are not needed in the information technology (IT) industry where work ethic is good and the staff are well-paid, with workers even finding opportunities outside the company they work for, says a senior industry figure.

Whenever there is a downturn, there is always noise about unions coming into play in the IT industry but it never sustained, former chief financial officer of Infosys Ltd, V. Balakrishnan told PTI.

“Work ethic is very good and salaries are high. Even today, the attrition rate in the IT industry is double digit. It (talk of employees’ unions) always fizzles out after some point of time. It never sustained,” he said. “But I think, even if there is a union, I don’t think it will impact the industry much because IT industry is one of the best paymasters in the country and second, the people find opportunities outside,” he said.

The employee unions work in industries where work ethic is bad and where employees are treated shabbily. Following reports of layoffs and fears about further retrenchment in the slowdown hit IT industry, there had been some talk in recent times about forming a union.

“IT industry is not bad, IT industry people are well taken care of, well-paid, and they find opportunities. Even one of the bad years, this year, where growth rate has come down, the attrition is still double digit. So, I don’t find a need for union in this industry. Even if there is a union, I don’t think it will impact the industry much because people are well taken care of in this industry,” said the former board member of Infosys.

Balakrishnan said the reports about widespread job losses in IT industry are exaggerated.

“If you look at all the leading companies, none of them is talking about huge job losses; they are all talking about the regular performance-based attrition, that is normal in the industry. So, to some extent the scare of job losses is exaggerated,” he said.

Balakrishnan added further that IT is not a traditional industry. “It’s a global industry where you get global opportunities to work. This industry is different, it’s not like traditional industry. I don’t know whether formal union kind of structure will succeed.”

Asked if boom times are over for the Indian IT industry, Balakrishnan said: “That’s what we had been told when 2000 dotcom happened...Y2K came up...2008 financial crisis. Same concerns were expressed then.”

“This industry goes through ups and downs, but it always found its feet and went into new areas, I think even this (current) crisis will be an opportunity for them to invest more into new digital, SMAC (social, mobile, analytics and cloud), mobility and new technologies. They will reinvent themselves,” he said.

While it looks like the $150 billion Indian IT services industry would log single digit growth in the current fiscal, it’s possible that it could accelerate to double digit next year. He said it could be so as opportunities are large, IT spending is still very large and the US economy, which is the largest market for India, is growing at 1.5-2%, which is not bad, Balakrishnan said.

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