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Pune labour commission sends notice to Wipro for benching employees

The Pune Labour Commission has issued a notice to Wipro after reports of the company benching 300 employees surfaced.

The letter mandates the company to take necessary steps regarding the same, failing which legal action will be taken against them.

The notice issued states that no employer can reduce the salary or cannot terminate employees during the lockdown period as per the notification issued.

This comes after Maharashtra-based IT union National Information Technology Employees Senate (NITES) filed a petition with the commission on May 1.

In the letter, NITES said, “On behalf of NITES, Maharashtra we would like to bring to your notice that we have received complaints from employees of Wipro BPO Pune Phase 2 Hinjewadi regarding putting employees on bench to maintain profitability of business under COVID-19 pandemic.”

“The company has also notified the employees on April 23, 2020 that they are on bench with immediate effect. Because of this, pay and jobs of more than 300 employees are at risk,” the letter added.

According to the letter, the move is a strict violation of Maharashtra government’s rule that employees should not be impacted because of COVID-19.

Moneycontrol has seen the copy of both the letter and labour commission notice.

Most of the IT/ITeS firms during their FY20 Q4 results commented that they expect June quarter to take the worst hit and suspended guidance due to lack of growth visibility. Firms also hinted they expect pricing pressures, project deferrals and demand drops due to the virus outbreak. In a bit to cut costs, the companies have put a freeze on hiring and suspended promotions and wage hikes.

Several hiring executives Moneycontrol spoke to said that benching is inevitable given that demand has slumped and new projects are likely to be deferred due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Wipro employee who spoke to Moneycontrol expressed their fear of being laid off given the probability of finding newer projects would be challenging.

However, Wipro in an emailed response earlier denied these allegations and said that these are speculations and has no basis. “Wipro reiterates that there are no retrenchment plans. Also, we request you not to misrepresent or misinterpret intra-company surveys that are undertaken from time to time on various topics. The company has well defined policies and people practices in place to take care of its employees,” the company said.

Harpreet Saluja, General Secretary, NITES, said the companies which are not abiding by the directions mentioned in the government circular even after the notice from Labour Commissioner Office will have to face legal consequences as non-compliance attracts punishment under IPC Section 188, 269, 270, 271 Disaster Management Act 51 (b) & epidemic disease Act 3.

“We urge the IT, ITES, BPO, KPO and telecom companies to abide by government directions. In such difficult times, the companies should take decisions keeping welfare of its hard-working employees in mind,” he said.

―CNBC TV18

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