Over 30 squads put into action to inspect IT corridors in State

Despite efforts by the Election Commission to ensure that private companies granted their staff a paid holiday on Thursday, when Tamil Nadu went to the polls, many firms seem to have dodged probing eyes and continued to function. Accounts that employees of several such companies provided to The Hindu reveal different strategies adopted to evade the scrutiny by flying squads.

Chief Electoral Officer Praveen Kumar on Friday said action was initiated against 10 companies for violating the norms. Officials said FIR was registered against three of those firms.

Data sourced from the Commission reveal that its call centre was buzzing with complaints on firms refusing to provide paid holiday on poll day. In the five days preceding the election date, as many as 230 complaints were forwarded by the CEO’s office to the Labour Department for immediate action. The polling day too saw a steady stream of calls on the issue. The complaints were dominated by employees of Information Technology firms.

According to a senior official in the Labour Department, over 30 squads were put into action to inspect the IT corridors in different parts of the State. But despite inspections, employees of several private firms said they continued to work on Thursday with some failing to cast their vote. “Our management said they would give us Rs. 2000 incentive to come on Thursday. It was not optional,” said a woman employee of an IT MNC.

A senior employee of another firm said her office asked employees to use the back gate. “In the front, the office would have looked like it was a holiday. But about 250 of us worked,” she said on the condition of anonymity. The work continued “even after an inspection” by officials, she added.

Mr. Kumar said inspections were conducted based on specific complaints. “It was not a general thing. Wherever we found violations, we acted.”

Besides complaints on refusal of paid holidays, officials said the call centre at the CEO’s office received about 560 complaints of money distribution in the three days leading up to the polls.