We hardly see cars breaking down on roads these days. But human relationships which are so vital for their production have taken a serious beating, evident from the recent outbreak of violence at the Manesar Maruti plant which claimed the life of a manager. Engagement of labour on contract, long years of training, and indefinite probation are some reasons for the growing incidents of labour unrest across the country. Employers, more so multinationals, do not believe in elementary trade union democracy. The government of the day is not strict in enforcing labour laws because it fears that the MNCs may shift their operations elsewhere. The MNCs are keen on profits — profiteering, to be precise. Workers’ welfare is not a priority. This is the fallout of globalisation.
This is not to condone the violence at Manesar. A commission should be constituted to look into the problems and suggest solutions, including laying down service conditions.
N.G.R. Prasad, Chennai
A peaceful atmosphere is essential for any industry to engage productively. The workforce is divided into two sections to facilitate the smooth running of activities. Coordinating between the divided groups is the task of the industrial relations department. Unfortunately, the human resource manager is seen as a management representative when labour related issues are negotiated. Policymaking bodies should include representatives of labour too. Only then will the workforce feel honoured.
At the same time, trade union leaders should educate their comrades to avoid adopting a confrontationist attitude with superiors and co-workers. In the Maruti episode, everyone concerned failed in avoiding the untoward incident.
C.R. Ananthanarayanan, Bangalore
While violence should be shunned by a civilised society, the Manesar incident should not be seen as just an act of destruction and arson. It has revealed how India is still reeling under the age-old animosity between the poor and the rich. The time has come for employers to choose between an indifferent attitude and a willingness to bend.
Employees, on their part, must decide whether they want to continue oscillating between inferiority complex and pseudo-aggressiveness. There has to be a fair amount of “give and take” on both sides.
Ganapathi Bhat, Akola
It is the responsibility of managements and trade unions to ensure that such incidents do not recur. While trade union activism is on the decline in south India, it is spreading in the north. It is important to frame adequate rules to protect labour. Trade unions should be educated on the need to ensure a productive environment and avoid confrontation.
B. Venugopal, Kochi
No one has the right to take the life of another. The Maruti management has failed to handle the issue proactively. The government should not employ even one worker responsible for the agitation when the factory reopens.
Only then will officials be confident of discharging their duties.
D.J.C. Barnes, Madurai
The labour riot in Manesar shows that people lower down in the organisational hierarchy bulldoze the management with unfair demands. When they are not met, they turn hostile and indulge in callous behaviour. Code of conduct, norms, respect — all these are myths. The solution for such unruly behaviour lies in the strict enforcement of rules.
Amber Siddiqui, Noida