Reproduced below is the Speech of Mr Rajeev Dubey, President – Group HR & Aftermarket Sector, Mahindra & Mahindra at the recently concluded EFI seminar on Industrial Relations. He is also the Chairman of Employers Federation of India.
Good morning Ladies and
I believe that while we
have a complex situation, it can actually be used as a great opportunity to
revisit many old paradigms and create a platform where the various stakeholders
i.e. employers, employees, government, media and civil society, get together to
create an ecosystem which is competitive, fair and inclusive. These three
words need to be our North Star - competitive, fair and inclusive.
It is my firm conviction
- we focus on the right
- approach the problem
with an open mind and the determination to find solutions,
- focus on unleashing
the potential of the workforce, rather than just short-term labour
we can infact herald a new
era of industrial relations which will be characterized by innovation,
productivity and growth.
The key is for all stakeholders
to adopt a win-win approach, understand each others points of view and be
willing to give and take. Dialogue
provides the key to the kingdom and if there is one mechanism that we need to
mine deep and wide, it is the process of dialogue. Several like-minded
industry associations namely FICCI, CII, ASSOCHAM, EFI, NHRDN, AIOE, SCOPE and
NIPM have recently come together on a common platform to suggest a practical
and acceptable plan of action for the creation a violence free workplace that
will also be competitive, fair and inclusive. Five focus areas have been
identified, and we hope to come up with a practical course of action that we
will then discuss with trade unions, government and civil society over the next
These five focus areas,
which should apply to manufacturing & services sectors, are:
1) To co-create a Code or Charter
of Behaviour which sets out voluntary guidelines for acceptable
behaviour. The basic philosophy is that each of the stakeholders takes
responsibility instead of just pointing fingers.
2) On a continuing basis have
conferences and workshops across the Country which bring together employers,
workers, trade unions and governments to have a social dialogue on the proposed
Code of Behaviour
3) Bring industrial
relations onto the radar screen of top management and the Board
4) Focus on capability
building and education
5) Evolve guidelines for
the atypical workforce, including contract labour.
Even as we attempt this gigantic
transformation of mindsets and behaviour, which will be a long term process, we
certainly need to revisit labour laws
and practices, which are an important piece of the jigsaw puzzle.
The objectives with which
labour laws were enacted were indeed laudable, given the context of that time,
when the State had to intervene to put in place safeguards for labour. However,
over a period of time, these safeguards have often given rise to undue
harassment and corruption. While those violating the spirit of the law need to
be brought to book, often law abiding organizations also get targeted for the
most trivial reasons like non-display of some notices, human errors in returns and
registers, occasional delays in remittances or submission of forms etc. This
approach not only deviates from the very purpose for which the laws were
created, but by focusing only on the organized sector, leaves the large
workforce in the unorganized sector totally unprotected.
We particularly need to
look at aspects of the Contract Labour Act and Industrial Disputes act and make
modifications that will allow flexibility to take into account changing levels
of demand, while at the same time ensuring fairness. I will not go into chapter
and verse, the details are well known and I will not add anything by repeating
them. Suffice it to say that in addition to these two major Acts, we also need
to look both at the contents and implementation of various other laws in light
of the overall objective of ensuring competitiveness, fairness and inclusion.
These include the
Factories Act, 1948, the Shops and
Establishments Act, the Employees
State Insurance Act, Minimum Wages
Act, the Apprentices Act, the Trade Unions Act, the Building and Construction Workers Act
am not here to hold a brief for all employers. There may be some who do things
that are clearly unacceptable and need to change their ways. But equally, the vast majority of employers
would like to work within a framework of principles and values and be genuinely
interested in unleashing the human potential of the workers in the pursuit of
creating long term competitive advantage, where employers and workmen interact
and engage with each other in their multiple roles and not just as “productive
resources.” This requires that both
Be willing to “listen” and
provide “psychological air.” especially to the younger work force.
Keep looking for third
alternatives through openness and dialogue.
Believe in the power of win-win
solutions rather than win-lose conflicts.
Always remember to keep
channels of communication open, especially during periods of
Avoid taking positions that are
“irreversible” and, finally,
Believe in ourselves - That
we can bring about large change by working on many small changes.
the end of the day, it is about people engaging with each other, wanting to
make a difference, having a passionate desire to create a better world, staying
the course and being prepared to run the marathon.
can argue that all this is a Utopian dream, and far removed from the harsh
realities of the workplace. May be so, but any transformation starts with a
dream, This will be a departure from the past and there will certainly be a
risk of failure. But, as the old saying goes “nothing risked, nothing gained”.
conclusion, at the risk of sounding poetic, India stands ready to go into the
next orbit which can remove poverty, hunger and disease for millions of our
people. The decisions we take could
either convert that potential into a reality, or a disaster. We owe it to ourselves, our constituents and
future generations to move ahead with wisdom and foresight.
am sure that is how it will be.
you very much, ladies and gentlemen, for your patient hearing.
Labels: dialogue, Employers Federation of India, Industrial relations, Rajeev Dubey