Generally speaking, a sweatshop is a factory where workers do piecework for poor pay and are prevented from forming unions; common in the clothing industry. With a lot of talk about these in the fashion industry, you have probably heard of enough already. However, have you ever been to or heard about the IT sweatshops emerging in every street of a developing country?
Every second street in Bangalore has an IT company working as an outsource for leading banks and telecom companies overseas. These IT companies charge the clients anywhere between $40-$120 per hour for each professional working for them, under a project. This can go higher if the work involves working in odd hour shifts or during weekends.
Many of the IT problems in the world are solved by checking a box, patching some computer code, or changing a setting on some program. The first time any IT professional debugs a problem, it may take them hours. The next time they see the same problem, the fix may take less than one minute. The best IT companies have their IT professionals store “how they fixed a problem” in a central database so that each professional is not “reinventing the wheel” every time a problem shows up. An IT professional who scratches their head saying, “I saw this problem before – what did I do to fix it?” is an IT professional who will save his or her clients time and money by taking notes.
To save money outsourcing, most overseas companies find a source that has IT professionals that are both certified and experienced. Let me give you an idea of what these source companies are generally made of:
A top company in India working as an outsource for a top bank in developed nations like the US, UK, Europe and Australia:
- Pays its employee roughly $2 per hour (yes, this is for real!) here in India.
- Has limited desk space and hence the employees share computers and are asked to work in shifts to accommodate more resource.
- Makes “optimal” use of space by arranging over 30 desks in a room with computers and these rooms do not have the air conditioners working most of the time!
- Has a policy of making the employees work for a minimum of 9 hours a day (even at odd hours and public holidays) and there is no limit to the maximum number of hours they can ask one to work.
- Sends their “deserving” (read: resources that can work for maximum hours without complaining) employees to work at the clients office overseas so that they can work for over 60 hours a week, including weekend support and also work on the public holidays both back home and abroad without taking any leaves whatsoever.
Now if this is NOT a sweatshop, what is? And to think of it, this is the state of a top company in India.
An IT professional spends all his life educating and equipping himself only dreaming of one day working in this India’s number one IT firm and what he faces when he wakes up is just another story!
On a lighter not, here’s a metaphor showing us the state of an IT professional in India and his employee:
Legend has it that Pablo Picasso was sketching in the park when a bold woman approached him.
“It’s you – Picasso, the great artist! Oh, you must sketch my portrait! I insist.”
So Picasso agreed to sketch her. After studying her for a moment, he used a single pencil stroke to create her portrait. He handed the women his work of art.
“It’s perfect!” she gushed. “You managed to capture my essence with one stroke, in one moment. Thank you! How much do I owe you?”
“Five thousand dollars,” the artist replied.
“B-b-but, what?” the woman sputtered. “How could you want so much money for this picture? It only took you a second to draw it!”
To which Picasso responded, “Madame, it took me my entire life.”