May Day Awareness Program by ITEC
On the occasion of May Day, which has tremendous historical significance for any member of the working class - blue collared or white collared, Employees from IT & ITeS Sector came together under the banner of ITEC (IT & ITeS Employee Centre) to discuss some of the harmful effects arising out of the extended working hours in IT & ITeS Sector. The 8 hours working day was achieved through a prolonged struggle by the working class throughout the entire world. It gave any worker the inalienable right to 8 hours for work, 8 hours for recreation, 8 hours for rest. This has been violated openly in Indian IT & ITeS Sector for long and consequence of this has been bad for a young working class in IT & ITeS Sector.
The theme of the program was “Extended Working hours in IT & ITeS Sector and its harmful effects on the Employees”. 60 employees from different IT & ITeS companies in Bangalore gathered on May 1st, 2010 at around 3.30 pm in the Multipurpose Hall of St.Joseph Degree College, Shanti Nagar.
The event started with the screening of a video which showed the life of an IT Employee in a different light than is perceived normally. At first glance, it is the high salary, the expensive life style etc. of the IT Employee that attracts attention. But there is another side of mental stress, bad health, unsuccessful family lives etc that are faced by an IT Employee due to the high pressure work culture in IT & ITeS Companies. The video was prepared by ITEC Team showing instances from their own lives and the lives of their colleagues, friends. The video narrated the change in the thinking of an IT employee after going through this stress at different points in time and also seeing his colleagues affected with the same issues. The video also mentions about the period during recession when employees were fired under the name of “Resignation” (in truth Forced Resignation) in a very unjust manner. The video was well applauded by the audience as they found resemblance in the video with their own lives.
The video was followed by a speech about ITEC, how it was formed and what the aims & objectives of ITEC are. The speech also mentioned some of the initiatives like the survey, open meeting of employees etc. that ITEC has conducted in the last year.
Then there was a skit perfomed by ITEC members with a non IT person Vasihnavi, a 7 year old girl who played the daughter of 2 IT employees who seldom have time for their daughter. The skit had 3 plots based on the theme “Extended Working hours in IT & ITeS Sector and its harmful effects on the Employees”. One, where an employee is repeatedly performing overnight duties in spite of suffering from severe back pain and is afraid to tell his manager about his problem due to the strict project deadline. Second, where two women employees who have been working overtime due to project pressure, talking about the chance of breast cancer among women who work overnight.
Third was where the small Vaishnavi was waiting for her parents to celebrate her birthday and after the parents came home, they soon fell asleep after cutting the birthday cake leaving Vaishnavi alone with no one to listen to what she wanted to say. The skit ended with Vaishnavi facing the audience and saying “Some one wake up my papa and mama”. The skit was highly applauded by the audience for the way it portayed the issues faced IT employees in a light but thought provoking manner.
Talk on “Extended Working hours in IT & ITeS Sector and its harmful effects on the Employees”
The skit was followed by a talk on “Extended Working hours in IT & ITeS Sector and its harmful effects on the Employees”. The talk focussed on the effects such as health issues (like back pain, neck pain which are more common among IT & ITeS Employees), Mental stress leading to lack of productivity, suicides, lack of time for personal and social life, increasing divorces etc. The talk stressed on the need to overcome these serious issues which is affecting a huge section of young population in the IT & ITeS Sector who are very much the citizens of this country.
A small survey was conducted to know the issues arising out due to the extended working hours. Out of the 42 people who participated in the survey, 22 people work more than 8 hours and 10 people more than 10 hours. This was almost similar to the survey which ITEC conducted last year for around 600 employees, where 71% employees told they work more than 8 hours and 14% told they work more than 10 hours. Out of the 42 people, 35 people told that they are not paid for extra working hours, which is similar to the survey ITEC conducted last year where 74% of the 600 employees told that they are not paid for extra working hours. Out of the 42 people, many are facing different issues due to extended working hours – 15 are facing health issues, 23 are facing mental depression, 30 not able to spend time for their personal interests, 12 not able to spend time for their family.
Finally 36 people told that there is a need for an association of IT & ITeS Employees which is again similar to the survey ITEC conducted last year where 72% of the 600 IT & ITeS Employees told there is a need for an association of IT & ITeS Employees to address the issues of the Employees.
Open Discussion on “Extended Working hours in IT & ITeS Sector and its harmful effects on the Employees”
Then there was an open discussion around the topic of “Extended Working hours in IT & ITeS Sector and its harmful effects on the Employees”. All the audience participated in the discussion which was very constructive and gave threw different perceptions and views but majority of the crowd agreed to the existing issues as portrayed in the skit and video and that they need to be addressed. Different people mentioned different issues, and even suggestions of reducing the mental and health stress were told.
The program ended with ITEC thanking all the audience who attended the program and to be part of ITEC in taking forward the issues of IT & ITeS Employees through campaignings and to address them unitedly.