The Telegraph
Sunday , September 23 , 2012
Since 1st March, 1999
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Industry speaks up for labour

Ranchi, Sept. 22: Industry leaders today stressed on striking a balance between aspirations of the management and the workforce as they deliberated on reasons behind labour unrest on Day 2 of the HR conclave at IIM-Ranchi.

The participating students, faculty and guests at the conclave were, however, disappointed after the organisers announced that an eagerly anticipated online presentation on Maruti Suzuki India Limited by its chairman R.C. Bhargava, who also chairs IIM-R’s board of governors, was cancelled.

Bhargava was scheduled to speak on the Manesar violence in which a manager from Ranchi was killed.

Vice-president of General Motors Vikas Shirodkar, one of the speakers at the concluding day of the meet titled “Turning the Tide on Unrest in the Workforce”, said the management’s approach was often unrealistic, which resulted in unrest among workers.

He added: “We only talk about unrest in the workforce but it applies to the management also. Unrest, which is caused mainly due to inequitable work, wages, etc leads to passive violence that is eventually manifested in the form of actual clashes.”

Citing an example of how trivial issues sometimes lead to chaos, Shirodkar recalled that while he was in a Mumbai firm, workers once resorted to violence after one of them spotted a fly in a vada pav (a local snack) they had been served at workplace.

C. Sreenivasan, the chief people officer of Ramky Infrastructures, Hyderabad, said that a report by the Confederation of Indian Industry suggests the salary gap between top management officials and lower rung workforce is in the ratio of 1:250 in a country like India. In USA, the average is 1:160 whereas in countries such as Japan and China the difference has been brought down to double digits.

“Salary gaps are a serious concern in India. There are also big gaps within the hierarchy of the workforce, though they are devoted to a common cause,” said Sreenivasan, candidly admitting that dishonesty is at its peak in the infrastructure sector that has grown by leaps and bounds.

Tata Steel senior HR officer Senthil Kumar, who moderated a panel discussion on conflict management focused on the need to “be sensitive to each other” and claimed that “individual behaviour makes a lot of difference” in industry.

He pointed out that in the recent past three HR professionals were killed — one at Maruti’s Manesar plant and two other companies — in and around Delhi.

Replying a question of a student of IIM-R, Shirodkar said, “The bottleneck is always at the top of the bottle,” referring to the fact that many crucial HR decisions that need to be taken at the level of the top management gets ignored.

Meanwhile, Tata Steel MD H.M. Nerurkar also could not make it to valedictory session of the two-day meet due to last-minute engagements in Mumbai.