How do you see and define new age labour relations? How it differs from old age industrial relations dynamics, thought process and action approach?
BS New age labour relations are having emphasis on the need for accommodation and developing methods of adjusting to and co-operating with each other. It is an era of co-exist. Priority for career growth plans and continuous communication will play a key role. Old age labour relations were totally based on collective bargaining and discipline approach with an element of mutual mistrust causing negativity, strife and conflicts. New age labour relations are driven by a generation which has capability of thinking, voicing and arguing. They are not lame ducks. In every decision, they want to understand what is in that for them. Younger employees want respect, career path and involvement in decisions making process. Organisations cannot have harmonious employee relations with yesteryears methods and approach. Time is of having more reciprocal, sensitive to their genuine needs and more knowledgeable.
Do you think that Trade unions are slowly becoming irrelevant in this age of knowledge and digital economy, and if so, and what corrections they should make in their approach and perspective to stay relevant?
BS No, not at all. I don't think unions are becoming irrelevant. This segment can have a re-design but cannot be irrelevant. Here in Escorts Ltd., the union is around 50 years old and their functioning is very much supportive at all stages/levels. They understand the demand/need of market and talk on quality as well as business. They communicate that quality is our backbone and always emphasise among their fellow members/employees about its importance. We ensure that transparency in mutual discussions remain the core. This makes very positive response on shop floor. Every single employee, direct or indirect clearly knows the objective, vision and mission of the organization. Unions at macro level should also understand the business environment, market pressures and changing dynamics. They need to evolve themselves to cater the needs and aspirations of younger generations. Conflict is not going to gain any stakeholder.
The current demand of the country is to make an environment, where management and union should work with team partnering approach rather demanding approach.
Is Labour Day representing origin of collectivism losing its shine and if yes, why?
BS Up to a certain extent, yes. In today's competitive environment it's very much need of every organisation to celebrate collectively its success and achievements rather celebrating Labour day alone. Majority of workforce in organisations are now well qualified and understand that their growth shall always depend upon the growth of their organisation. So they always think very positive and talk about growth of their organisation only.
In manufacturing sector, will robotics going to impact blue collar jobs negatively and if yes, what Proactive steps HR should take in advance to maintain a fine balance in job opportunities and technology advancements?
BS No! When computer was introduced in India by Sh. Rajiv Gandhi, the then Prime Minister of the country, the same thought was also in the mind that computer will do task of 10 workers, so will affect take away the blue collar jobs. But rather affecting, it increased the job opportunities. The same thing will happen in case of introduction of robotics in industries. Organisations will certainly grow by increasing their efficiency thru adopting new technology. Maruti and Toyota have already introduced robotic systems in press shop and will never affect the blue collar jobs. It will develop new category of jobs for which required set of skills are to be developed in people. HR should focus on technical expertise and change adoption skill, while hiring at all levels. By this proactive start in recruitment, necessary trainings can groom team members even in robotics line too. If any company adopts such technology, it will grow more and more and new openings will generate in market for skilled ones.
How do you evaluate the objectivity and impact of labour reforms undertaken by Govt. on labour relations?
BS Govt. has already started initiatives on labour reforms but the speed is not that fast which was expected to keep pace with the time. I think, Govt. should merge various laws in to two legislations only for industries and employees to protect and safeguards their rights. Though Govt. is moving in this direction but more deliberations and simplifications is required to make laws relevant with the time.
(a) Social Security - Which shall protect the right of employees working in an organisation. It should be a combination of ESIC, PF, Bonus, Gratuity, Workmen Compensation, Payment of Wages, Minimum Wages Act, Trade Union Act etc., Apprentice Act, ID Act, Maternity Benefit Act etc.
(b) Industry Protection/Security - It should cover Factory Act, CLRA, Environment Protection Act, Industrial Employment Act, Employment Exchange Act etc.
Industries should be allowed to declare self - certification for the compliance on their assigned web portal. Enforcement agencies should have a role of facilitators rather than policing. Many laws have become irrelevant. Such legislations need to be repealed. This will make the industry more supportive and more compliance oriented.