BPO employees ‘will vote’ despite ‘graveyard shifts’

May 4th, 2009 - 10:10 am ICT by IANS  

By Mayank Aggarwal and Azera Rahman
New Delhi, May 4 (IANS) Despite their erratic time schedules and the fact that most of their employers are not giving them a day off May 7, most youngsters working in the BPO industry in the capital are determined to take time out that day to exercise their right to vote in these elections.

Aditi Gupta, a 22-year-old working with IBM, a business outsourcing unit based in Gurgaon, said that on poll day here, her “graveyard” shift - which means that she has to work through the night - will end at 8 a.m. Therefore she will go to cast her vote with her friend later in the day.

“Not going to cast my vote is out of the question. For days, I have been having animated discussions on the political scenario with my father and some of my friends. Therefore I will definitely use this opportunity to exercise my right,” Gupta, who lives with her family in Greater Kailash in south Delhi, told IANS.

“After my shift ends at 8 a.m., I will reach home that day only by 9-9.30 a.m. Therefore I will not be able to go to the polling booth with the rest of my family, who will go early before the day gets hot. I will catch up on my sleep and then go there with one of my friends.”

Puneet Raheja, assistant manager in Genpact, said: “Generally I am a very lazy person and under normal circumstances I would not have made any special effort to go and vote. But this time I have decided to vote no matter what because our country is facing a grim situation.

“Recession, national security, corruption … the issues are endless. I specifically don’t want the Samajwadi Party (SP) to win because they spoke against computer education and the use of English. Because of the two, I have a job today,” Raheja told IANS.

Vidushi Bhatia, a 20-year-old working as a quality analyst with Noida-based firm ienergizer, said: “Come what may I will vote for sure. However, some of my friends are not really bothered about the whole election process. Specific awareness campaigns should have been designed for people working in the BPO industry.”

According to the National Association of Software and Services Companies (Nasscom), over 1.1 million people are currently employed in the BPO industry. And a significant number of them are below the age of 30. The industry is expected to employ 2.5-3 million professionals by 2010, contributing 7-8 percent of the national GDP.

One of the main reasons discouraging the BPO industry from coming out to vote is their work schedule.

“My shift these days starts at midnight and I get free only by 10.30 a.m. By the time I reach home, it’s already noon. After that all that I am bothered about is taking a shower and catching up on my sleep. To add to that it’s so hot these days - therefore I am not sure if I will have enough motivation to step out of the house in the afternoon to go and cast my vote,” said Abhishek Sharma (name changed on request), training with Midland in Gurgaon.

“Had we been given a day off on that day, it would have been a different story,” he added.

According to Nasscom, BPOs are not obliged to give the day off to their employees.

“It depends on the company if it wants to give a holiday to its employees,” a Nasscom official said.

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