Global Economics

The Nightmare Continues for Satyam Employees


Employees at the company dubbed "India's Enron" are worried about their financial security and are feeling ignored by the government

For Abhishek Jha, the 30-year old Satyam professional based in Hyderabad, finding answers to some anxious questions from his wife and other family members is much more painful than actually see Satyam Computer Services become what many are describing as India s Enron .

"My boss has just put in his papers, there is no assurance if we will receive salaries beyond January, and other potential employers we meet for interviews are trying to make the best of this opportunity by offering us much lower salary levels," said Mr. Jha who works at Satyam's back office division, which employs around 3,500 professionals. His name was changed as Satyam has asked its employees not to speak with media, and this employee requested anonymity.

Amid the entire drama unfolding ever since the former Satyam chairman Ramalinga Raju admitted to a financial fraud, some Satyam employees feel that everybody from government to investors are ignoring the emotional trauma thousands of Satyam professionals could be experiencing.

With a five year old son, and over Rs 35,000 of equated monthly instalments (EMI) committed towards repayment of bank loans, Jha along with many of his colleagues is worried about the future.

"I have been having discussions with my wife about whether we should relocate back to Delhi, he added. Given the ongoing recession, I am ready to take even a team leader s role with a back office company in Delhi," he added. He currently works as a manager.

Many Satyam employees who are exploring job opportunities with other companies are also realising that they might not be able to negotiate for a better salary, or even designation. "I have given around three interviews in past 30 days, and barring one company, which offered me a similar salary, the remaining two suggested that I join at a lower salary," another Satyam employee told ET on conditions of anonymity.

Some employees are now questioning Satyam's decision to have a top-heavy organisational structure, especially at the company s BPO division.

"There are seven vice presidents in the business development team, and three vice presidents responsible for HR in the BPO division with only 3,500 employees," said another Satyam employee requesting anonymity.

Apart from worried Satyam employees in India, many company professionals are stranded in countries such as US and Japan. With ambiguities surrounding Satyam s future, and customers seeking to terminate outsourcing contracts, Satyam s overseas employees have nowhere to go.

A Satyam marketing professional employed in Japan is among few hundreds of the Company's employees trapped overseas, with no clarity about what lies ahead. Satyam has around 200 professionals in Japan to serve customers such as Nissan.

This marketing professional who could not be contacted by ET last week, has become a father of a baby son, and is currently running around the Indian embassy and other offices in Japan to secure a passport for the new-born in order to rush back to India as instructed by Satyam.

"He asked for some time to cope with the situation, but he was threatened to be sacked if he did not return immediately," said one of his colleagues familiar with the developments. He requested anonymity.

Meanwhile, over 400 Satyam professionals are still stranded in Bloomington, Illinois, US after State Farm Companies canceled a mutli-year contract with Satyam last week.

"All I can tell you is that these (Satyam) folks are exceptionally bright professionals, and are helping us transition the projects to other vendors," said Jeff McCollum, a spokesperson for State Farm.

State Farm, which also outsources projects to another Indian vendor, Patni, is likely to shift most of the Satyam projects by early February. Some of them could be absorbed by other vendors depending upon their work permits, but a majority of them might have to return, added Mr. McCollum.

Unites India general secretary Karthik Shekhar who visited Hyderabad to meet Satyam employees last week says his organisation is in touch with Satyam professionals based in the US and Japan. "We are trying to offer whatever help we can," he said. His organisation has received membership requests from over 1,700 Satyam employees this month alone.


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