IS IT A GRAND PLAN TO DESTROY OR DESTABILISE THE INDIAN INDUSTRY? ARE WE UNKNOWINGLY BECOMING A PARTY TO IT?
I am writing this blog to speak my heart out in the most open way as I always have and the way in which I see that the employees are being handled by the companies in Pune. This blog is nothing but a warning of a prospective destructive situation that is presently going on in the industry in Pune. We either will now lead the world by being a manufacturing prowess or we will be an example of how an the industry in Pune and in turn Maharashtra was systematically destroyed.
Being one of the advisers of some big and some multinational companies in Pune at a young age and being a principal support of the Companies who are conducting cases day in and day out in the courts on behalf of the companies I think now it has come down to the managements being strong and taking the right decisions now otherwise these companies will reach a point of no return.
I personally think that this category has lost it or a majority definitely has. So what is the difference of the workmen of the earlier generation and today’s generation. The earlier generation earned their salaries, conditions of service after prolonged bargaining and also after a lot of negotiation and also some coercive actions but all had limits. I think social aspects like respect for elders, connection with reality, knowing your limitations, caring for the family has got a lot to do with respecting your job which the earlier generation did. I think today is a world of fast marriages, fast divorces, easy money, fast money and big cars and hence dissatisfied souls. The workmen are doing nothing but killing the hen that lays golden eggs for a mine of gold. But why blame the workmen? It is also the management that is to be blamed as the workmen has the hefty salaries which are not justified and now you can see the situation in which the companies are. It is unfortunate that the workmen also are having a disconnect with the reality, market conditions, situation prevalent in the company, situation prevailing in the industry and competitive challenge from China. Day in and day out when I advise a closure of a company I feel that I have lost another battle with China and I feel very bad that not only the workmen are not concerned about it they seem to care two hoots about the closure of the company. They are only interested in a hefty compensation or a lucrative VRS. If one company closes I wonder how many families must be starving. It is very easy to blame the company but today the workmen have a lions share in this defeat with China and the Starvation that they have brought upon themselves.
I have been advising numerous companies for a number of years now. I have seen that as on today an average worker in Pune earns a salary above Rs.30,000 and a very good proportion of employees along with the production allowances earn upwards of Rs.50,000. I will definitely make a bold statement that even the employees working in the management cadre like the human resource department, the marketing Department, the finance department do not have such a privileged salary. Despite earning such a huge sums of salary these workmen go on and on about bad food, too much of work, stress, and many reasons which are obnoxious and appalling. I had on numerous occasions dealt with cases in various companies during the wage settlement where these employees have not only boycotted food without giving any prior intimation but have wasted food or have stood in the line of upaas food as an agitation and have created a ruckus in the canteen by throwing food dishonouring and disrespecting food. I must say for Gods’ sake we are living in a country in which a majority of people are below the poverty line and do not get food. I believe at least in terms of the salary these people get they should at least respect the food. Food is nothing but a source of living for many people and these employees have scant respect for such a source. I am more appalled with the fact that companies allow such a disgusting and disrespectful behaviour to go unpunished. I have seen that hardly a few companies except companies which are mostly Indian take these acts seriously and actions are taken against such persons. On a number of occasions I have produced photographs of workmen pouring dal on the floor of the canteen, scattering rice and chapattis or simply thowing pieces of salad on canteen boys before the court to get injunction orders. However, I have yet to come across a single case where any management has taken action against the workmen for wasting and destroying food. Thus by pardoning such acts companies in fact encourage the illegal activities of the workmen.
I have seen that companies get very jittery during settlements and this is the time where touts and touts in the industry come in limelight by giving false promises about how they can manage the unions and get the settlement done in the company. I am very disappointed to see that a good number of the companies fall prey to such assurances and make compromises like pardoning illegal actions to maintain good relations with union leader and try to create a situation of you scratch my back and I will scratch yours. A sort of a quid pro quo. I’ve seen with my own eyes that such companies have a short site and in the end up giving such touts huge sums of money and do not have a permanent solution to their problems. Problem solving has to be system based. But quite to the contrary we see that it the individuals which play a major role. Whether the union leader is A or B and whether the HR head is X or Y it is not the relationship between the two which should be able to solve the problem. It is the system which should be in place which can do it. Thus even if a particular person is not present the system should be able to resolve the issue.
COMPANIES ENTER WITHOUT STRATERGY
In my years of practice I’ve seen that the unions have become extremely smart and in fact they have acquired the mastery of making a fool of the management. Many managements feel that they are extremely educated, highly smart and they can easily get things done in a limited time frame. In the first place we are dealing with human beings. Secondly one must have a connect with what is going around in other companies in the region in which the company situated. The unions have acquired the skill to play one person against the other in the management and in most of the companies they succeed in doing the same. One must learn that these unions and their leaders are extremely well trained and these are the new generation leaders with new generation ideas and hence these companies need new generation lawyers, managers and advisors. However I see that a few managements dwell in the past they are so busy patting their back with their earlier successes and ideas that they forget what is happening in and around them and that the world has changed.
WORSHIPPING UNION ADVISORS
One of the reasons that these unions have become more powerful is the reason that HR managers seems to have an affinity towards the advisors of the unions and treat them like holy saints. One must not forget that whatever name you give to the relationship that is the relationship of an employer and workmen it is as good as a relationship of India and Pakistan and both cannot give up their demands and eventually one is hard done by the action of the other and is waiting to get back at the so called oppressor. I would like to ask such HR managers/ companies that do you treat your management staff, contract labour, trainees and other employees the same way? Whatever you may say I know what treatment is meted out to such staff and the management treats them with disdain and they are left in the open to fend for themselves while companies support their permanent workmen who are systematically destroying the establishment. Please treat this as a warning that your employees have commitment issues because of your behavior against management staff.
I am highly shocked to see the salaries of permanent workmen in at least 50% of the companies in Pune. That does not me that I am against paying these persons hefty salaries. But seriously a person who is 10th pass/12th Pass/ Diploma or not every one is getting salary in between 40 thousand to 70 thousand. I would love to ask you people a question as to what do you pay an engineer who has slogged for 4 years and has just been placed and companies pay minimum wages or 1000 rs more than minimum wages which they proudly state in various public and international fora. I am really shocked to see that the permanent workmen are given huge salaries without any accountability and just 8 or less working hours however other people have to work day and night and have completion pressures and tactics. I think this is discrimination against one set of employees who are in majority and contributing hugely to the success of the company. My take on this is that there is huge discontent brewing in employees other than the unionized workmen as the companies are ignoring the majority employee and trying to please the minority. I can also see that foreign companies are grabbing these trained and disrespected people and hiring them at foreign locations and the efflux has started in other parts of Asia and Australia. Companies have in fact developed a cast system in which the permanent workmen are the most privileged, trainees, earn and learn, NEEM et. In times of recession the axe falls on these categories which in fact are the lowest paid because they are the least protected.
UNIONS ARE AMPLY FUNDED
The very concept that unions consist of poor people, is absolutely false and untrue. People who think in such a manner are living in a fools’ paradise I can confidently say that all unions have come together and are funding each other and also if the funds are less then foreign institutions fund them. In fact it has been these foreign institutions who have trained them and they have trained them well. If you suspend a person or transfer him and the court rejects his transfer it hardly affects the workmen as the union pays his salary and fights cases on his behalf and takes care of lawyer’s fees. A small group of workmen can contribute some amounts monthly and can create a fighting fund. They can hire good lawyers and one should not forget that the law also is mostly on their side. They can practically hold the management to ransom. Added to the same is the problem of “just in time” supply or a policy of multinational companies for zero tolerance of strikes and go slows. Such companies are ready and willing to pay whatever price to avoid a strike. They also try to compare the wages in rupees with wages paid to the workmen in their mother plants abroad. Such companies tolerate anything in the name of trade unionism. A large group of office bearers get paid monthly salary without doing any work. Unions office bearers are given vehicles, foreign tours, special food in canteen, liberty not to wear uniforms and not to mention the money paid under the table for not creating any problems.
WILL HISTORY REPEAT ITSELF? WILL INDUSTRY IN PUNE ONCE AGAIN BE DESTROYED LIKE THE MILLS OF MUMBAI AND SOLAPUR? OR WILL WE SECURE THE FUTURE OF OUR CHILDREN BY REALLY MAKING IT THE MANUFACTURING PROWESS OF THE WORLD?
The unions are no longer scared of filing cases before the court. The unions are also extremely trained in various aspects as bonus, D.A. and are also well versed with what is happening in and around their industry. This is possible because all the funding that the union receives. In fact, many a time the management people fall short in various legal aspects. The union arranges various seminars, classes on weekend get themselves educated with all provisions of law. Unfortunately, there is no such unity in so far as the employers are concerned. The employers are only united on the face of it. It is easier to get copies of settlements of various companies by asking the office bearers of our own union than to ask a fellow colleague working in another company. Such is the state of affairs. Unless and until the companies truly come together with their hearts and souls it is going to be very difficult for the industries to survive. Unity of the employers from now on is the utmost importance for the success of the industry in Pune as well as Maharashtra.
I would like to conclude by saying that today’s time is a very competitive time. If you are not on your toes you are out of the market and on the road within no time. The only thing permanent in your company is the permanent workmen. Their salaries kept on increasing every three years which causes discrimination to other employees. There is no connect between the manpower to salary ratio in most of companies and therefore 30% of the companies are in the process of closing down. Remaining 40% of the companies are in the process of giving a VRS in order to keep the business going. Others want to set up factories in Uttaranchal, Haryana or some other State where labour costs are cheap and government subsidy is higher. The only thing is that is permanent is change which the workmen are unwilling to accept. However, it is not entirely the workmen’s fault. What can you accept from a person who is 10th or 12th passed? Consequences of any leniency or wage rise need to be thought and discussed by the company.
The companies entering in the market must enter with a perfect plan like how many people they want to employ, in which position they want which person, how to employ the persons, where to employ, list the nature of duties of such individuals, what are realistic salaries can be offered to them, where to situate the company for least amount of employees unrest. All problems can be avoided by proper planning by the company which invests million in a factory. However, it seems that they are unwilling to invest in planning which eventually in the long run will help their industry survive.
There is a lot to write about. However, I must limit myself to the above few subjects I have touched upon. In a few weeks I will be writing about some other aspects which I have not touched in his blog. However, I would advise everyone reading this blog to think, discuss or even criticize my experience which might be harsh. This is what I see every day.