Chennai, 7th April 2013
Freshers, who were recruited by HCL technologies ltd. through campus recruitment in 2011, went on a day long hunger strike here at Valluvarkottam, demanding that they been inducted into the company at the earliest. They were recruited at campus in 2011 and were promised jobs at HCL Technologies once they pass out. But the recruits claim that even after almost one year since passing out, they have not been employed by the company nor even provided a clear date for induction. Similar protests have been going on across India, with many recruits gheraoing HCL offices in Bangalore, Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai.
HCL Technologies is an IT Major with revenues above Rs 23000 Crores (USD 4.4 bn). It has presence across US, Europe and Asia. In late 2011 it had recruited over 7000 students from engineering colleges providing them with letters of intent to employ them as and when they complete their courses and are awarded their degrees. These letters of intent expire by august 2013. HCL claims that these are only intent letters and jobs will be provided based on demand from projects. In Tamilnadu alone students from 47colleges are awaiting placements since 2012. This includes even SSN College founded by Dr. Shiv Nadar, Chairman of HCL group.
One of the recruits maintained that he did not apply to other companies primarily because he was confident of being placed at HCL. He said that all companies tend to have contractual bond requirements and unless HCL clearly stipulated their position he cannot apply elsewhere. This has been a serious issue with the recruits. They feel betrayed by HCLs delaying tactics. When the recruits had approached HCL early in August-September 2012, they were told that they would be placed within weeks. When it did not materialise they approached the management once again only to be given another vague date. Then HCL organized a FRP (Front Runner Program) test for all candidates in which 1200 were shortlisted for immediate induction. The rest were guaranteed a similar test in January 2013. Neither the shortlisted candidates were inducted nor a repeat test conducted. The fresh recruits cooled their heels with hope that jobs will materialise soon. With almost a year behind them the recruits are in dire need of immediate employment.
Being unemployed for over a year has caused a career gap in their resumes that will be hard to explain for prospective employers. The loss of experience will place them at a disadvantage in future promotions and plans for higher studies have also been jeopardized by an unplanned delay of over a year. The anxiety among the recruits is mounting as the next batch of engineering graduates would enter the professional’s market in short while and they will face increased competition and will no more be ‘fresher’s’. Mr. Pradeep, recruited from a private college in Chennai, had obtained a student’s loan. The servicing period has begun and yet he has not had any income. With interests mounting he is facing a stiff financial situation. Mr Venkat, a student of SRM Easwari Engg College, Chennai, said that HCL, given its brand value, was given the second slot in recruitment in this college. It has recruited 158 including him. As it was a norm in the college, these students had not appeared in any other interview, so that their co students obtain jobs. Now many who took interviews with other companies have been placed, while these students remain unemployed for no mistake of theirs. “Had the company been judicious in recruiting, we would have found other jobs and would have been earning good salaries by now. Their failure to plan and project requirements has shifted the costs on us. We feel that HCL should immediately provide us with jobs and compensate for the year that we lost” said Venkat. This undue delay in finding a job has also caused social problems with family members and friends question their job status.
HCL for its part has maintained that they will be willing to provide employment in its BPO arm or the infrastructure wing. But recruits find it difficult to accept as it’s a domain change that will affect their entire career. Even though some did opt to go to infra, they found to their dismay that they were made to face a series of interviews once again. HCL through a statement has said that they will start issuing joining dates from August 2013, but recruits feel it is a ploy as their letters of intent expire by that time and they will have nothing to hold the company responsible.
Over 5000 recruits across India have come together thorough social networking and have coordinated their struggles and protests. Their demand has been single and simple ‘provide us with a clear joining date’. In this struggle they have been supported by many groups including ‘Knowledge Professionals Forum’, group of techies who have come together to discuss and engage with issues affecting software professionals.