Due to global headwinds and funding shortages, technology start-ups are announcing mass layoffs, leaving thousands of young Indians suddenly facing an uncertain future. Many people, however, are not going quietly about it.
When Ravi (name changed upon request) learned that he and a number of coworkers at a significant Indian edtech company were probably going to lose their employment in October, he formed up a private messaging group with them right away.
The group quickly evolved into a “safe zone” where Ravi and his teammates could express their anxieties, get advice on how to cope with the management, and talk about labour laws and employees’ rights.
Many team members were able to negotiate improved exit policies with the corporation because to it.
BBC News reported that the past few months have been difficult for Indian workers in private companies – especially in the tech sector.
Edtech firms Byju’s and Unacademy have cut hundreds of jobs; social media giant Twitter has laid off more than half of its staff in India and Indians are among those affected after Meta – Facebook’s parent company – shaved off about 13% of its 87,000-strong workforce.
The spate of layoffs has sparked outrage on social media and many of those affected are turning to the internet – like their counterparts in other countries – to air their dissatisfaction and form support networks.
They’re tweeting about unceremonious firings, asking for jobs on LinkedIn, and using messaging platforms such as WhatsApp and Slack to rally colleagues, assert their rights and share information with journalists
This is partly because the culture of shame and silence that once existed around terminations in India is gradually wearing thin as mass layoffs become more common.
Pritha Dutt, a management and development sector professional, says that even a couple of decades ago, terminations were most likely chalked up to “a performance issue”.
“Today, layoffs and downsizing have become accepted business practices, so terminations are no longer a taboo topic,” she says.
And while the jury is still out on how effective social media is as a tool for redressal, experts say that it is helping unite and amplify voices, especially as trade unions are no longer as powerful as they used to be.
While millions of Indian workers still belong to trade unions, the movement as a whole has been weakening for years. A number of factors – including burgeoning private sector jobs, new labour reforms and a rise in contractual work – have played a role in denting their membership and might.
“Along with employers making themselves more accessible, social media too is giving employees a platform to air their grievances, thereby reducing the need for a mediator – a role traditionally played by unions,” says Professor Chandrasekhar Sripada, professor of practice, organisational behaviour, at the Indian School of Business.
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