In response to The Hindu report “Dark days are ahead for workers of scented candle factory” published on Thursday, Sagar Mukhopadhyay, Vice President (Corporate Affairs), The Manipal Group writes: “The article presents an “exceedingly misleading impression” about our organization’s core values and philosophy regarding human resource management, thereby maligning the reputation of our Group. The article provides readers with several inaccurate, misleading and distorted information.
We clarify that we first addressed the employees on January 11, 2013 (hours within the ill fated incident) contrary to what has been reported. We informed them that we plan to rebuild the factory and work together as before. We also told them to have faith in the management and added that we have been doing everything possible taking all the employees into confidence and we will continue to do so.
The confidence the staff has on the ability of the organization to rebuild and commence full scale operations can be gauged by the fact that only one out of the 800-plus general workers resigned after the fire incident.
The article undermines, rather conceals the fact that Primacy Industries has over the years been audited by global buyers for compliance of all social and ethical standards and has been certified for such compliances. We have been paying above the stipulated minimum wages and deployed the best-in-class safety and security equipment besides imparting regular training.
The Hindu report also has serious erroneous interpretation that we have warned our people from speaking to the press. Rather, we advised our people to focus all energies in helping us to salvage the situation and rebuild the business at the shortest possible time instead of diverting attention on provocative comments and in answering probing queries.
Mohit M. Rao responds:
Nowhere in my report have I said that the management of Primacy Industries had addressed the workers for the first time four days after the fire. My report says: “After four days of uncertainty, on Tuesday, he and hundreds of his fellow workers — at least 70 per cent of the workforce is female, said a worker — gathered at the gutted factory from where plumes of scented smoke were still emanating."
I had, in fact, sought the response of the president of the company to the issue of the workers being told not to talk to media persons. He denied this, and said that it was an “internal issue”. Unfortunately, I did not put his quote into my story. I regret not carrying the president's specific response to the specific allegation by the workers I spoke to.
Beyond this oversight, I do not think my report contains "inaccurate, misleading and distorted information." The story was not meant to draw attention to the core values and vision of the group but to the anxieties of around 900 workers whose livelihoods have been affected by the blaze in the plant.