A section of employees of the New York Stock Exchange-listed WNS has gone on strike to demand better wage hikes and protest against the retrenchment of five employees. The strike has been on for four days at the Nashik centre of the BPO (business process outsourcing) company, which has a headcount of 23,874. The employees have also taken help from local politicians.
The Nashik unit of WNS has a headcount of 1,100-1,200 at two offices. Sources in the know say employees from both offices have joined the strike. The number of employees on strike is said to have risen to nearly 500.
A WNS spokesperson said, “WNS is a global organisation, with 24,000 employees, which pioneered the concept of setting up global BPO delivery centers in tier-II and III Indian cities like Nashik. It has come to our notice that in the past couple of days some employees have tried to influence other employees to join their unjustified protests around unreasonable demands. That is is successfully being resolved internally with the relevant authorities. The company will not compromise its values, clients or employees.” The spokesperson added the company had a comprehensive business-continuity and disaster-recovery plan to run operations for its global clients.
Sources within the company confirmed a number of employees were agitating. “There are a handful of employees who started the agitation. But that has not impacted operations in any way. Increments are based on the business model,” said a senior executive from the Nashik centre on the condition of anonymity. Nashik mayor Yatin Wagh told Business Standard, “A delegation of WNS employees has already briefed MNS (Maharashtra Navnirman Sena) legislator Vasant Gite. They have put forward their arguments related to the removal of some employees. Besides, the employees have made a strong pitch for better salaries.”
However, Wagh said the MNS would give an opportunity to the WNS management to make their stand clear on the issues raised by employees.
Wagh admitted operations at WNS had been impacted by the agitation. He, however, said the management would be in a position to give a clear picture.
Another MNS leader clarified the party was keen on a settlement. “The facility should continue to operate. In fact, our legislator, Vasant Gite, told the delegation of WNS employees not to press for the formation of a union to make it a prestige issue. He asked them to continue their dialogue with the management,” said the MNS leader.
The Nashik unit of WNS primarily provides data processing work related to finance and accounting. The unit is part of the company’s focus on tier-II and -III cities. This has been the focus of most BPO firms, as these centres cities have lower real estate prices and salaries than tier-I cities.
This is the second time employees from the company’s Nashik unit have resorted to a strike. In 2008, the employees had gone on strike for two days to demand the payment of additional bonuses. Even in 2008, the MNS’s Nashik unit supported the agitators. WNS reported a revenue of $474.1 million (around Rs 2,498.5 crore) for FY2012. The Indian IT-BPO sector, with $88 billion in revenue, has seldom witnessed employee unrest. Rather, attempts to unionise BPO or IT workers have been unsuccessful.