Friday, October 27, 2006

Unionization of BPO Workers, Letter to Indian Express

The Indian media has gone ballistic after hearing that the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) has launched a forum which is some type of union of BPO workers.

The Indian Express has published an editorial and op-ed piece on the same. The Op-Ed Piece has quoted an article by Amandeep Sandhu about BPO unionization too. I have made some critical points on both these articles (the edit and the op-ed piece) in a letter to the Indian Express. If time permits, I shall write a longer piece on the issue itself.

Subject: Unionization of BPO Workers in Kolkata.
While your editorial waxes eloquent on the need to keep BPO workers from unionization because of loss of competitiveness, which in itself is a spurious logic, it doesn't talk about the appalling work conditions of the BPO workers themselves. The opinion piece by Saubhik Chakravarti quotes the article by Amandeep Sandhu in EPW, about how unionization has hitherto failed and the lackadaisical attitude of the BPO workers toward the same, but the important reasons for the same are conveniently omitted. BPO workers have been clearly fed the logic that unionization is an activity meant only for the blue collared, eventhough their unskilled work itself doesn't pertain to the white collared. Sandhu aptly quotes another important work done on unskilled workers in Barbados where a similar attitude prevails.
Clearly, there is more to the opposition toward unionization than just loss of competitiveness. Also, there is no sufficient logic provided by your editorial or opinion writer as to why indeed unionisation *will not* help BPO workers tide over unhealthy work conditions. In addition to this, the editorial doesn't deem it necessary to notice that unions and unionization in the form of pressure groups exist in all types of societies to secure wages, good working conditions for workers, of the blue collar or of the white collar type (lawyers, sportspersons, etc). Even the Indian cricket players have a pressure group and a players' union, whose formation your lead writers have lauded in the past in your own newspaper! Perhaps if your editorial and opinion writers had however talked about the unionization of BPO workers under the thrall of ideologically motivated organizations such as the CITU as the primary problematic, it could have carried more sense. Blind opposition to unionization however seems prejudiced and devoid of complete logical veracity.

Sincerely,
V.R.Srinivasan.

1 comment:

Dust-Biter said...

The apparent motives are good but I am afraid there may be sinister designs behind this proposal...

Cheers
Varahasimhan