The recent Meru strike brings
forth interesting issues – one of the nature of contractual relationship and
the other of providing leadership. The strike has ended and Meru cabs will be
plying now but I will not be surprised if it is an uneasy truce.
An interesting fact which
Mumbaikars perhaps do not know is that Meru does not ‘employ’ drivers. There is
no employer-employee relationship between Meru and Drivers – the drivers are
actually independent contractors who have hired a Meru asset – cab – on rent.
If we appreciate this nature of relationship we will also realise that the
regular route of dispute settlement under The Industrial Disputes Act 1947 is
not available to them.
A driver or DSE as he is called
in Meru parlance is probably unable to conceive of any other mode of
relationship with an organisation like Meru. So there are demands like ‘weekly
holiday’ which just do not fit into the scheme of things because a Meru driver
can ply his cab as and when he likes.
The driver’s perceptions can be
understood considering their level of education, but what about their leaders?
This is what the news reports said, “Swabhiman Sanghatna, led by industries
minister Narayan Rane's son Nitesh, which is heading the section of the
drivers, is adamant. "The drivers will remain on strike till the company
absorbs the terminated drivers without any conditions," said KK Tiwari, president,
taxi-auto wing of the organisation.” Would
it be unreasonable to expect the foreign MBA degree holder Nitesh Rane to
appreciate the business realities and legal framework?
The radio taxi service is
unfortunately not declared as an ‘essential service’ but its importance should
not be lost on anybody, much less to the leaders. A responsible leadership must
strive to find solutions within the framework of accepted principles. Employing
violence to garner public and political support is an age old tactic which the
public is tired of. Issuing threats has become a favourite pastime of self styled
leaders. It gets tolerated because the Government of Maharashtra is choosing to
ignore it, both out of nepotism and timidity. What otherwise explains the fact
that miscreants who have damaged dozens of Meru cabs have gone scot free?
Violence is the easiest option to
solve a dispute, and the easiest option is often not the right choice. We need
leaders, not just educated, but learned and who can resolve differences without
transgressing the bounds of law. Encouraging a positive work ethos is the need
of the hour; the society will pay a heavy price for ignoring it.
Labels: Conflict resolution, Leadership, Meru, Nitesh Rane, Radio taxi, Swabhiman