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Employees swing between hope and hopelessness

BS Reporters  |  Hyderabad/ Mumbai 

It was an unusual sight at Satyam's headquarters in Hitec City today. The otherwise lively campus wore a grim and sombre look with high security all around.

The only activity witnessed was outside the campus where the mediamen — both print and TV — were parked in full strength hoping to catch a glimpse of the chairman, who reportedly reached office in the morning and announced his resignation from there. The top management and department heads, too, were believed to be inside to discuss the changes and developments. A handful of employees though could be seen coming out of the campus at Infocity. But, all one could get from them was a 'No comment' or the 'Company is good'. While some looked uneasy, some hid their identity badges seeing the media, and those who did speak, requested anonymity to ensure they do not seen on the wrong side.

"We are tense after hearing about the developments in the company. Though the company has taken up an image-building exercise in the past few day, the reality today is in quite contrast. The chairman has been sending personal mails to all of us assuring things would be on track shortly. But what we see is quite different," said an employee.

The recent happenings at the company has dented the confidence of the employees without doubt. Krishna (name changed) at the Jubilee Hills campus said, "It is a big shock for all of us. We are in no mood to work since morning. We would be happy to find a new job immediately, it does not matter even if there is a cut in the salary,'' he said. Some others feel the employees would benefit if Satyam is taken over. "It needs a bigger company to take over Satyam. That will be beneficial to the workforce." Some employees told this paper that their superiors were unreachable and all attempts to get some details on the matter went in vain. "We have been trying to get in touch with our seniors but they have simply vanished," said another employee. The top management, revealed some employees, have been "avoiding talks with junior and mid-level employees."

They maintain that the management didn't bother clarifying matters when independent directors resigned from Satyam and not forthcoming on the present situation after Raju's resignation. Some Satyam employees were shocked to see Ramalinga Raju owning up to committing fraud. A seven-month-old staffer said, "He was our hero and we felt privileged to be a part of the Satyam family. But with matters unfolding, we can only worry about what will be our position in case another company takes over now." As confusion prevailed, many employees even chose to go home early. An employee acknowledged that he was asked by his seniors to not communicate with the media.

He admitted, "No one was ruling out the possibility of Satyam clients taking their business elsewhere." Another project leader at Satyam said that she felt cheated. "I am going to start looking for job opportunities now, as we have no clue about how the company will pull back from this and remain afloat," she confessed.

The media, which got updates like the Andhra government announcing a CB-CID probe on the issue, passed them on to the employees coming in contact with them. The employees, too, shied away, "We know what is happening in the company. That you will learn in the evening."

Even as the media tried to question them about the revelations to Sebi, they said they were bound by 'ethics' to not discuss internal matters with the media. "Work is all that we can do. Do we have a say in the management matters or the decision taken at the top rung,'' was a poser from one of the employees to the media.

Some are even banking on the projects that are to be renewed next month. "Our careers depend on the clients renewing their contracts. But we are yet to hear from them,'' said an employee working in the pre-sales department.

Venkat Reddy, who till recently worked on the DSP Merrill Lynch project at the company's Bahadurpally campus, only hopes that the recent developments will not trigger a job loss at Satyam. For him, this job is an absolute need, he has to pay his home loan for the house he bought for Rs 30 lakh. He is now seeing a project from The Bank of America, which replaced DSP, as a 'God sent' as it assures enough work to the company till December 2009, when the contract ends.

Amid all these, there are also those who are still keeping their faith. CR Aravind admitted the company was going through a bad phase and the happenings would hit the morale. However, he said, "I started my career with Satyam and would like to end it with Satyam." Joining him was Anshul Gupta. "The clients will come back to us. I am sure they have faith in the capabilities of the employees."

In the melee, some of the calls scheduled for Wednesday were cancelled. The 'Spirit of Satyam', a confidence boosting measure by the company scheduled today, was called off after the day's developments.

Meanwhile, three shareholders too came to the Satyam office here and tried to barge into the campus. However, private security guards, armed with batons, prevented them from entering. The investors then raised slogans demanding the management to come out and give a reply to them on the loss of share value. "I lost my savings because of the fall,'' said Dinesh Kumar Bohra, who bought 2,000 shares over a period of time.

(Some names have been changed to protect the identity of the employees)

First Published: Thu, January 08 2009. 00:00 IST