We are forced to resign, say Byju’s Technopark unit employees in Kerala

After Labour Commissioner’s intervention, company mails them offering to relocate them to Bengaluru or provide an exit package, which the staff see as a ploy

After Labour Commissioner’s intervention, company mails them offering to relocate them to Bengaluru or provide an exit package, which the staff see as a ploy

The more than 150 employees of Byju’s Think & Learn Private Limited at Technopark in Thiruvananthapuram were in for a rude shock last week when they were asked to put in their resignation papers.

Faced with an uncertain future and intense pressure from the higherups to quit “willingly,” the employees approached Prathidhwani, a welfare organisation of information technology employees, which got in touch with the Labour Commissioner and Labour Minister V. Sivankutty. Mr. Sivankutty on Tuesday said that the Labour department would take up the matter seriously.

Several of the employees The Hindu spoke to said that there was no written communication regarding the layoffs and closing down of the Technopark centre of Byju’s until 7 p.m. on Tuesday, when they got an e-mail from a company official offering to accommodate the entire team in Bengaluru or provide a “progressive” exit package. However, employees see this as a ploy to make them shift to a place from where firing them would be easier.

Veiled threat

“Last week, the HR, through the managers, informed each of us personally that we will have to resign on our own. We were told that there will be an exit interview on Friday, which few people attended, again individually. All of them were told to resign immediately, failing which they will be terminated without even the salary for October, a period during which we worked. The relieving letter would mention that they were terminated, which would affect their prospect of getting employment in future. It was almost as if we were threatened to resign. They had also posted a few bouncers from a private agency at the office,” said an employee on condition of anonymity.

Another employee said that quite a few of the employees with lesser work experience had given in under pressure and put in their resignation. The remaining employees, through Prathidhwani, demanded payment of the salary for October, one-time settlement of salary for upcoming three months, encashment of all earned leaves and full settlement of variable pay. No representative from Byju’s attended a meeting convened by the Labour Commissioner on Tuesday to discuss this. Later, the company claimed that its officials were away on Deepavali holidays and requested postponement.

“Byju’s is an official sponsor of the FIFA World Cup as well as the ongoing ICC Men’s T20 Cricket World Cup. Yet, they are claiming that the company is in losses and closing down some centres,” said another employee.

Company version

A Byju’s spokesperson told The Hindu that no one had been forced to resign, and that the employees were being provided several options. “In this ongoing organisational restructuring for profitable growth, Byju’s is making every attempt to offer relevant relocation opportunities to the affected employees. In this regard, while we are discontinuing a part of our Thiruvananthapuram operations to reduce redundancy, we are also offering the entire team an opportunity to relocate to Bengaluru. We have provided them more than a month’s time to decide on this matter. If they choose to not use this opportunity, we have made available a generous and progressive exit package to all employees impacted by the restructuring, including extended health insurance benefits, outplacement services and garden leave. This package even includes an assured opportunity to be rehired by BYJU’S within the next 12 months at any operational centre across India,” said the spokesperson.

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