Reflecting on past
events is essential. It tells us trends. And very different points of view. It
also points to issues before us. And hopefully it helps us learn and find a
better way ahead. “Follow effective action with quiet reflection. From the
quiet reflection will come even more effective action” said Peter Drucker.
So let us review
the ER in 2014. This is the first part in the series of blog-posts. I have
divided this note according to subject, and it is not in date-order.
have not drawn conclusions. Often it is unnecessary to draw conclusions –
particularly when they are obvious. And when facts are put forth to well
informed readers like you!
review is being published in parts. The second part will be published in two
days.] We begin
with the story of Toyota Kirloskar.
Trouble at Toyota Kirloskar
what I wrote in my blog on this case: “The issue involved in the present strike or lockout is said to be a wage
dispute. Toyota has offered Rs 3050 while the workers want Rs 4000 increase. If
this is the real issue, then it sounds funny that the parties are breaking
negotiations for a mere Rs 950 gap which is seen as not a very wide gap.
Obviously there is something more than meets the eye.”
What was that?
Remember that when you create a boundary, you
also create a battle line! Toyota says “Managing Toyota Way and establishing a
Toyota culture is not negotiable. That’s where the boundary is! The issue is
also how skilfully managers can do it. Toyota Kirloskar has always had a bad
record of industrial strife. Almost since inception, there have been repeated
strikes and lock-outs.
The EPW article provides a plausible explanation. It says
“Another important aspect of TPS
is the element of labour control that is inherent in its production system. The
control is so intense that it takes every single movement of workers into
account and categorises these movements as those which “produces added value,
produces no added value but necessary and produces no added value and
unnecessary”. There are supervisors in every work group to monitor and regulate
the movements of workers. These “value-added/subtracted movements” of workers
also constitute an indicator in their performance appraisal by their
supervisor. The lower performance points could lead to punitive actions like
reduction of a salary and even to termination of jobs on the grounds of “non-performance”. Completion
of a particular piece of work under the TPS is determined by production demand
without taking into consideration the availability of workers, so as to
minimise the cost of production. Studies conducted in Toyota units in India and
other parts of the world also showed that TPS is the major cause of health
concerns for workers (George 2006). The workers at TKML interpret the unique
system of Toyota production to be “less hands, more work and less pay”.”[unquote]
Workers who were locked out in March
went back to work in the third week of April when Government ordered them so.
What was the achievement? This is what the news report says:
“While the union has yet to drop its demands for higher wages and better
benefits, it has agreed to end its strike and take its demands to the
industrial disputes tribunal of Karnataka. "The wage and benefits and
holidays are the key issues referred to the court for adjudication,"
Shekar Viswanathan, vice chairman of Toyota Kirloskar, said.”
Auto and Maruti Suzuki take positive steps towards reconciliation
blogged several times about the Industrial Relations situation in Bajaj Auto.
The IR situation there is marked by some ‘interesting’ clauses in settlement. This
is what I wrote:
The BA management and VKKS had entered into a long
term agreement. The VKKS and BA
signed the settlement on 21st May 2010 covering the wages and
service conditions of workmen at Chakan Plant. It stipulated an increase of
12%, 8% and 8% was agreed for the first, second and third year respectively.
But the settlement also provided that if the annual increment awarded to
the similar category of employees across the Bajaj Auto Ltd. at any plant is
higher than the above mentioned increments in that case higher % of increment
will be made applicable to workmen covered under said settlement. Here was a
management which had granted a hefty increase to Pantnagar workers, so they
were now victims of their own game. Obviously BA refused to do increase in wages
automatically. VKKS alleged violation of the relevant clause no. 17–C of the
settlement. So VKKS has filed an unfair practice complaint before the
Industrial Court, Pune.
There were some hidden issues. Workers hated the way they were treated and
there was quite an animosity, while the management obviously feared loss of
control if the union organised the Pantnagar workers. Finally both the sides
saw reason, came to agreement. A hefty increase of Rs 10,000 was granted.
All is well that ends
well! But the Union has made some very positive moves and you can read about it on my blog published earlier.
Maruti Suzuki had a
tough job on hand. Repairing relations within the plants and repairing the
public image which had taken severe beating. PUDR had published a report ‘Driving
Force’ in May 2013 focusing on labour unrest at Maruti Suzuki. The newspapers
carried the stories that did not put the auto giant in good light.
That was followed by International
Commission for Labor Rights publishing its report titled ‘Merchants of Menace.’
[Both reports are available as free downloads on internet]. It hit out at
Maruti Suzuki badly, some say it was well deserved.
About 200 workers are
still in jail, and they are forgotten men in the game played by Press, Maruti
Suzuki, partisan State Government and political leaders. So a PR exercise was
“The old system, it has come to realise the hard way, was an unreliable and
unjust way of hiring and retaining workers. "A contract worker cannot
possibly have any commitment," explains RC Bhargava, chairman of MSIL.
"He doesn't see a future for himself in the company. Instead of motivation
and accountability, we have suspicion and witch-hunting. It impacts capacity
utilisation and performance adversely."”
…. As the contract system is being phased out, MSIL is
aiming at a mix of 70% permanent and 30% of company temps. Today, the mix is
around 50:50. "Given our experience of the last two decades of business
cycles—the peaks and troughs —this would be an ideal mix of workers," says
Siddiqui. [News Report ET Apr 1, 2014]
We wish them well!
They have a long ground to cover.
we stop here in this first part, here is a food for thought: This is what Frank
Dane says about Unions – ‘A system devised to protect the inept from the
And we will reach out to you in the second part to continue this
review. What’s your response to this blog-post? Do write, your comments will
further learning of ER professionals.
Wishing you a very Happy New Year,
you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments, but what is woven
into the lives of others."
Labels: Bajaj Auto, Industrial relations, Lockout, Maruti Suzuki, Maruti Suzuki Strike, Strike, The Toyota Culture, Toyota Kirloskar