Article (July-2018)


Case Analysis II - Remove trust deficit

R. N. Mishra

Designation : -   Consultant - HRM

Organization : -  Tata Steel, Jamshedpur


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1. Ms Pratibha Auto Ltd. is located in NCR. It has 30% permanent, 20% Probationers and 50% fix term employment. FTE is both a bane and boon, depending on its application.
There are mainly two executives staying within factory premises during the days of 'Dharana', one Mr. Gupta, Administrative Head and Mr. Saxena, HR Head. The later was reporting to the former. The former was having close connections with the promoters, and hence was capable to turning down any initiative of later. The Later was an enlightened executive, having knowledge of the workers' psychology, ideas to implement fresh initiatives and was perceived as influential and trustworthy person among the workers.
Due to non adherence to certain understanding by the management of the company, the workers were gradually lost confidence on the management. They were provoked by outside leadership to resort to more aggressive approach against management. Influenced by outside Union leadership to adopt mode of agitation, the urge and expectation/aspirations of the workers were defeated since on technical ground on account of delay in confirmation of workers, they were restrained from having their Union registration. Lack of ambience for amicable negotiation and Mr. Saxena being sidelined, internal office politics and leg pulling between different HODs making the workers disturbed and unsecured with constant efforts of Mr. Gupta not to spare any occasion to let down Mr. Saxena made the issue more complex. The gap between the workers and management became very wide on account of internal conflict within the management and external Union leaders' provocation for their ulterior motive(s).
To summarise, the internal politics, attitude of Mr. Gupta of letting down the initiatives of Mr. Saxena, popularity of Mr. Saxena and envy of the HODs, deliberate delayed action with regard to confirmation of workers, nonexistence of internal Union, majority of the workers being in FTE meaning no guarantee of permanent employment, delay in settling the wage dispute, restraining of the workers in fulfilling of their aspirations, intensified by the disciplinary actions and  court's order inter-alia police intervention to remove dharana of workers and force applied to remove them from the work premises created a huge "TRUST DEFICIT" between the workers and the management resulting in to anger and violence.
2. Mr. Saxena was highly qualified, experienced and sincerely desired to bring upon a cordial atmosphere and implemented many workers welfare initiatives, such as provision of uniform, transportation, rewards and recognition practices, annual function, Holi/Dewali/Puja celebrations type employees engagement practices, convincing the top management against engagement of contract labours, recruitment of 1800 workers in direct roll as an outcome of his persuasion with the top management etc.
He felt shattered due to internal squabbles for not being able to take forward his proposed initiatives in a desired manner. The inference of Mr. Saxena that attitude of workers and belief that the management and workers are enemies to each other and not understanding the concept of harmonious coexistence might be due to his frustration arising out of helplessness in not able to taking right kind of initiatives. This thought process of Mr. Saxena got compounded, since he was not having access to the top management to share his observations and put his recommendations.
3. The deteriorating situation was avoidable. It was within manageable limit. It is evident that while the workers stayed for 15 days on the pretext of strike, yet no much untoward situation did arise. There was no threat to life to both Mr. Gupta and Mr. Saxena.
The situation declined because of non-cooperation from higher management, the latter not keeping their ears to the ground, getting misguided by few, internal conflicts and not interacting with the qualified HR head from time to time lead to widening of the gap in understanding the ground realities.
4. Since finally good sense prevailed with the top management and the Chairman might have understood the ground reality from the HR Head., some pro-active measures are warranted like :
a) Initiating Confidence building measures, through fresh negotiations with the workers representative under the prescribed provisions of law.
b) Keep the disciplinary proceedings in abeyance and decide action depending upon the outcome of negotiations.
c) Organising negotiations away from work location in peaceful environment not approachable by the outside leadership may bring early results.
d) Negotiating wage issues on scientific manner using the MOST (Maynard Operational Sequence Technique) Model, relating to productivity norm.
e) Revisiting the rewards and recognition schemes and introducing few employee happiness and friendship models.
f) Instead of keeping vacuum, allow the workers to form their internal union with no outsiders. It will provide a sense of security to workers and sense of achievement.
g) Introducing several leadership/workers development programmes to promote awareness and ethics, discipline, code of conduct, production and productivity mode.
h) Implementing the previously agreed pending issues, like confirmation etc.
i) Creating a regular Workers Management Communication models to avoid mis-representation by middle level management and shop floor politics and ultimately to have a direct link to understand the issues and concern of the shop floor workers.
j) Strengthening the Works committee activities and regular updating the workers with business developments and their expected contributions.
k) Implementing different engagement modes for workers partnership for the growth of the industries formation of joint committees, workers empowerment models.
l) Sharing the gains.
m) Withdrawal of police cases against workers, if any.
n) Creation of a management council, comprising all the departmental heads, holding regular meetings, and emergency meetings as when needed.