Monday, May 01, 2006

India's outsource workers snub unions

The rest of the civilized modern world view India as the seat of sweatshop labor with long, late hours and low pay. Thus, with the noble intention of protecting workers’ rights and improving working conditions, international alliances of unions have been attempting to organize them into protected groups. They have been faced with a shocking discovery though: the Indian outsourcing workers have no desire nor see the need for unions.

Beyond the negative image of unions the mostly-youthful Indian employees have, most see themselves as ‘members of a relatively well-paid, respected professional elite in no need of a union’s protection.’

The Union Network International, made up of 900 unions is targeting India’s back-office outsourcing workers for unionization. This alone amounts to 350,000 and is expected to shoot up to add 80,000 within the year.

An employee of IBM’s outsourcing center in Pune says, "A union would make sense if there was no job security," and goes on to point out "Here jobs are more, people are less - companies are trying all means possible to keep employees happy so that they won't leave."

That wasn’t the first wave of resistance UNI has encountered either. Indian software programmers had turned their noses up at the offer of union protection, back in 2000. The union drive serves a critical purpose for the UNI since the jobs lost when shipped over to India represent cuts in the unions’ traditional member pool – mostly from Europe and North America. He exhorts the workers to join as these can help facilitate improvement in the industry’s working conditions.
For details read here