HYDERABAD / CHENNAI: Verizon Data Services India, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the American telecom company Verizon Communication, has reportedly laid off over 1,000 employees in Hyderabad and Chennai. While there is no official confirmation, employees and associations estimate over 1,250 employees could have been fired.
The mass retrenchment exercise has struck panic in Hyderabad and Chennai campuses of the company, with several employees claiming they were not given a heads-up by their seniors or management. An estimated 250 techies have been laid off from the Hyderabad branch located at the Raheja Midspace in Hi-Tec city over the last two days. The Forum for IT Employees (FITE), an employees’ union representing techies in Chennai, claims about 1,000 staff members have been sacked.
Employees, both at Hyderabad and Chennai offices, claim they were threatened by security guards and forcefully made to resign while accepting the severance package offered by the company. “When I asked for some time, one of the bouncers pushed me and threatened to beat me if I did not sign immediately,” alleged a 32-year-old who worked with the company in Hyderabad. “My self-respect was reduced to nothing.” The sacked employee claimed the entire process was completed in five minutes and he was asked to exit the building.
Employees at Guindy and Perungudi campuses in Chennai had similar stories to tell. “Two security guards entered the bay and escorted a colleague to a room where he was forced to resign,” said one employee. “He had just received a performance appraisal, and being escorted by security guards like a criminal was so shocking and humiliating,” said one employee in Chennai.
The company spokesperson denied any manhandling of staff and claimed the retrenchment was part of an internal transformation exercise.
“Several jobs roles are being eliminated due to change in technologies in the global market,” said Sajad Pokkodan, Verizon India’s corporate communication head. “We are getting technology-centric for which we are conducting a Role Rationalising Exercise. There are several job roles which do not have scope for future needs,” he told Express.
Denying manhandling, Pokkodan added that “security personnel along with an HR personnel were part of the meeting to ensure there is no emotional outbursts or adverse reactions.”
Meanwhile, IT employees’ welfare groups in both cities condemned the ‘illegal mass layoffs’ and said that they will go any extent to seek justice for those who were retrenched. “The IT industry in India has reached a new low. We might be cheap labour but is this the way a professional is treated?” asked Kiran Chandra, Member, Forum for IT Professionals in Hyderabad.
“We will file a petition with the State labour commission and also with the police station soon,” he added. The Forum of IT Employees (FITE) in Chennai has appealed to the labour department deeming the retrenchments “illegal” and has asked for an intervention. “We will help the employees who have been sacked by Verizon with legal support,” said K Raju, a member of FITE, who narrated to Express the case of a senior employee who was asked to quit on Tuesday. “He hasn’t spoken a word and his wife is coordinating with us,” said Raju.
FITE on its Facebook page has even asked axed Verizon employees to file a mental harassment case if they had been cornered into signing resignation papers. “The delivery managers and the senior project managers had a meeting a few weeks ago and all this is planned,” an employee told Express. “The word in office is that employees are being escorted out by security guards is to avoid emotional outbursts and prevent certain key files from being deleted as revenge,” she said.
“All this is planned,” an employee told Express. “The word is that employees are being escorted out by security guards to avoid certain key files from being deleted as revenge,” she said.
Globally, around 15 % of employees of Verizon were sacked after it merged AOL and Yahoo into Oath earlier in the year.
FITE's post on Facebook: