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Is Wipro planning a massive lay-off?

Last updated on: March 25, 2011 14:06 IST

Is Wipro planning a massive lay-off?

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Bibhu Ranjan Mishra in Bangalore

Wipro, the country's third-largest information technology (IT) services company, is asking non-billable employees unwilling to work on any project they have been assigned to leave immediately.

Non-billable employees, or employees on the bench, are those with no assigned project work.

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Image: A Wipro employee passes by a billboard in the campus.
Photographs: Reuters.
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The policy, said to be a part of the company's efforts to contain its rapidly dropping numbers of billable headcount, has created widespread discontent among the staff.

So far, employees have the freedom to decide the project they want to work on.

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Image: Wipro campus.
Photographs: Reuters.
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In an internal circular to the human resources department, executive vice-president and chief global delivery officer Sambuddha Deb said the company was finding employees on the bench assigned different projects were declining to take up assignments, citing various factors, including constraints in changing locations.

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Image: Wipro employees.

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"We have gone way past the stage when we can afford to tolerate this. With immediate effect, the company policy is as follows - any person who refuses to take up an assignment would be asked to move out of the organisation immediately," he said.

Usually, when a non-billable employee is asked to work on a particular project, he takes the final call on joining the project, based on various factors like skill sets, domain expertise, new skills one can learn by working on the project and location.

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Image: Wipro office.

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"It is really unilateral to force someone to work from any location and work on any project, which does not have any future. Many people have been asked to change their locations, leaving behind their family, as they can't relocate them immediately. Many of them own houses at one location and even their children are in the middle of the academic year," said a middle-level manager on condition of anonymity.

According to the new norms, neither employees nor delivery managers and project managers can turn down joining a project, if their profiles match the requirements.

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This could only be done by the clients concerned, if they find someone unsuitable for the project. In case of any violation, the respective delivery managers and project managers are being taken to task, according to an employee.

It is also learnt that 250-300 senior level employees, above the rank of delivery managers, have been identified by the company for retrenchment, as many such positions have been done away with.

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In the recent restructuring exercise, the company merged many verticals and horizontals to create newer ones.

Wipro wished not to issue any comment on these developments. Wipro had a higher number of non-billable resources in the December quarter, compared to the past couple of quarters.

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During the quarter, the gross utilisation rate, including support and trainees, fell to 68.6 per cent from 70.9 per cent in the previous quarter and 73.2 per cent in the year-ago quarter.

The number of active clients also dropped to 880 from 890 in the previous quarter.

Utilisation rate and new client additions are expected to drop further in this quarter, as the company has not been able to add many clients, according to analysts and industry experts.


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