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Maruti Suzuki Limited (MSL) is remembered by all of us for the world class cars it manufactures. But of late the company is making news for it dubious labour management practices. The company which sells more cars in India than Japan benefits in multiple ways by doing business in India. 80% of the spare parts used in its cars are manufactured by its vendors by employing low priced workers and 70% of the workers in MSL factories are contract workers earning less than one third of the salary of regular workers.

But unfortunately the company does not consider it important to provide proper service conditions to workers. India has a progressive economic policy and it tolerates ill treatment of workers for the sake employment generation. Had it been USA and Europe the operations of MSL would have been closed down by the government for the misconceived labour policies. A plethora of factors are contributing to the degeneration of people management practices in MSL starting with greed for more profit, lack of concern for labour problems, unprofessional approach of managerial staff and superstitious beliefs of the employer.

Understanding professionalism

Sometimes patients die because of medical negligence which is proved by other Doctors through autopsy. Occasionally Chartered Accountants collude in financial scams like, Harshad Mehta or Satyam Computers, which are detected by other Chartered Accountants. In either case the Doctors or Chartered Accountants look at the issue dispassionately in search of truth rather than protecting the professional colleagues responsible for the lapses.

Human Resource (HR) Managers claim themselves to be professionals and they have professional associations like National HRD Network to promote professionalism among them. Almost every month there are HR conferences of one kind or the other happening all over the country to promote professionalism in HR. Every year new HR propositions like HR business partner, HR competencies, talent management and so on are advocated to project HR as a profession. However the question remains to be answered is how far HR managers have matured to be professionals.

The doctors or chartered accountants responsible for the lapses would have lost their jobs or had their licenses revoked. But HR Managers in MSL actually get promotions and pay hikes after every incident of labour unrest.

For example prior to the three prolonged strikes by workers in 2011 at MSL Mr.S Y Siddiqi was General Manager (HR, IT and Admn) and after the strikes he was promoted as Chief Operating Officer.

The work at the Manesar factory of Maruti Suzuki Limited (MSL) was stopped from 18th July 2012 to 21st August 2012 due to the failure of human resource management function, which has resulted in the death of a general manager and injuries to around eighty managers by the vengeance of frustrated workers. While everyone has condemned the attack and expressed condolences to the demised manager’s family, no one from the HR profession has tried to find out whether and if at all there was anything wrong with the HR department of MSL.

Being a large organization MSL may think that it is capable of earning profit even by closing down the factory for months or by allowing its managers killed at workplace but it is also important to be careful about the workers who have nothing to lose. The only aspiration, most of the workers have for themselves is to go to work for earning their livelihood. When such a fundamental aspiration has been snatched away by the management by falsely implicating them for the misconduct they did not commit, the workers are left with the only option of expressing anger at management.

Poisoning the Benevolence

The parent company of MSL is Suzuki Corporation of Japan. Japanese are known for benevolent HR practices like life time employment, decent working conditions and reasonable salaries. But HR managers in MSL take the advice from international consultants by paying huge amount fees. The five advices repeatedly given by such consultants are (1) contract worker can be employed in any number and for any jobs, (2) It is sufficient and lawful if contract workers are paid minimum wages fixed by the government, even though it is very less than the wages earned by regular workers, (3) unionization of workers should be discouraged at any cost (4) unionization of workers can be avoided by having large number of contract workers and (5) payment of fair wages and providing humane working conditions are not important if labour department officers of the government are properly managed. While these consultants fail to understand the socio cultural dimensions of labour unrest, the benevolent organizations like Suzuki Corporation are branded in India as exploitative employers.

Motives behind the violence

Motives of all kinds were attributed by the management, government and the mass media beginning with infiltration of militants, involvement of naxalities and the role of business rivals. Thank god, the only motive not attributed was involvement of neighboring foreign country.

The workers have alleged that on the evening of 18th July 2012, MSL brought around 100 goons from outside to attack the workers, which has not been officially denied by the MSL management. The workers have further stated that when they confronted the goons in self defense it led to the violence. While the motive of workers to indulge in sporadic violence is yet to be fully investigated, the question at this point in time is whether it was ethical on the part of any organization to use goons to deal with employees. The workers’ allegation of outside goons entering the factory is equally difficult to believe since no attack or injury of serious nature on the workers have been reported.

The 18th July 2012 violence at MSL is a reasonably well planned attack by the workers and they are surely aware of the adverse consequences like criminal prosecution and termination of service. But it is difficult to understand why MSL management closed all the peaceful options for resolving the conflict.

In the morning there was a fight between a worker belonging to scheduled caste and a supervisor in which it was alleged that the supervisor has insulted the worker by using derogatory language against his caste and the worker in turn has slapped the supervisor. When both of them are prima facie guilty of misconduct the management has punished only the worker by suspension and spared the supervisor.

The Maruti Suzuki Workers’ Union leaders have peacefully negotiated throughout the day for the revocation of suspension but management has taken a rigid stand not to negotiate in the matter. When the situation was going out of control the management has orally informed the union leaders that suspension order will be kept in abeyance. Workers wanted this oral information in writing and management refused to give it in writing which has finally led to the violence.

If management was sincere in its words, it was prudent to give it in writing to avoid the violence.

Trust and negotiation

There is complete lack of trust, authenticity and transparency between the management and workers in MSL because the management has deviated from its promises not once but thrice during the year 2011, which resulted in three prolonged strikes. Trust can be built by openness in communication, fairness in decision making, and devotion for honoring commitments; but the managers in MSL seems to have forgotten all of them.

When there is a conflict it is best resolved by negotiating a solution. The basic rule of negotiation is the flexible approach of giving something to get something in return so as to create a win-win situation for all the parties. But in MSL, every time a negotiation takes place the management gets something from workers like good conduct bond and so on but it does not give anything to the workers as per the promise. When workers are repeatedly duped in the name of peaceful negotiation the faith is totally lost.

Lack of expertise

It is alright to outsource labour law compliance work but industrial relation or dealing with workers is a core activity of HR managers which ought to have been given due importance. But HR managers at MSL are preoccupied with the holy topics of Indian HR such as, 360 degree feedback, assessment centre, psychometric testing and HRD audit.

The way MSL managers are dealing with workers clearly shows their lack of expertise in the labour relation frame work of Industrial Disputes Act 1947, Industrial Employment Standing Orders Act 1946, and Trade Union Act 1926. Unfortunately MSL takes advice on labour matters from international HR consultants by spending crores of rupees, when the consultants themselves do not understand the legal framework. This lack of expertise has resulted in a series of mistakes by HR managers at MSL, some of which are discussed below.

Dubious HR role

The job description of HR managers at MSL does not require them to seek either letters from the workers not to join any union or to seek good conduct bond for participating in lawful strikes. But this is what they did during the year 2011. When Shivakumar and Sonu Gujjar started mobilizing workers to form a lawful union of workers, the HR managers took written undertakings from many workers not to join the union. Workers have given such undertakings for fear of victimization by management but the feeling they carried about HR department was bitter.

The job description of HR Managers at MSL does not require them to manage workers by continuously violating the labour law. For example Contract labour (Regulation and Abolition) Act 1970 states that if the nature of work performed by regular workers and contract workers is one and the same then contract workers shall be paid salary and allowances on par with regular workers. But the salary of contract workers in MSL is one third of the salary of regular workers, which has become a rallying point for the united struggle of regular workers and contract workers.

The job description of HR managers at MSL does not require them to have HR practices contrary to the law of nature. Law of nature is the unwritten code of god and not the one made by parliament. Accordingly to this law the regular work shall be carried out by regular workers. It would have been fair and reasonable to have around 20 to 25 percent contract workers to deal with economic recession and business fluctuation, but MSL has a whopping 70% contract workers to perform regular work and hence the labour turmoil at MSL can termed as anger expressed by god of nature.

The HR department of MSL is extremely good at managing the national level trade union leaders affiliated to various political parties. As a result no trade union leader of eminence has seriously questioned the labour policy of MSL. In fact some of these leaders even advised the MSL workers during 2011 strikes to stop the agitation. While MSL workers realized that such advice is against the interest of workers, they started mobilizing themselves by identifying leadership within their rank and file like Shivakumar and Sonu Gujjar.

The job description of HR managers at MSL does not require them to destabilize the lawfully formed union of workers by carrot and stick approach. At the end of third successful strike in the year 2011, the management did not revoke the suspension of twenty one office bearers and executive committee members of Maruti

Suzuki Employees' Union including Shivakumar and Sonu Gujjar. All of them were charge sheeted for major misconduct on the one hand and at the same time enticing financial package ranging from Rs.16,00,000 to Rs.40,00,000 per head was offered in return for peaceful resignation from service. Caught between the devils and deep see these workers finally resigned from service in November 2011, by accepting the financial package.

While such a huge financial package to destabilize workers’ union was unheard in the history of Indian labour movement, the workers at MSL learned three important lessons from this episode namely (1) the management did not want to conduct enquiry to prove the allegations mentioned in the charge sheet since the allegations are false and baseless; (2) had the charges been true the workers should have motivated the HR managers to take a lenient view but here management is motivating the workers to accept financial settlement and (3) the best way to earn enormous amount of money being worker in MSL is by organizing strong unions to go on strike.

The job description of HR managers at MSL does not require them to sponsor the formation of union by workers. But a senior level HR manager at MSL on 19th July 2012 has given a media statement from his hospital bed which states that “What sin did I commit; in fact I took these workers to the registrar of trade union and I gave the money for registration of the union but they have in return beaten me badly for all the help I rendered”.

After sending home all the union leaders of Maruti Suzuki Employees' Union by paying attractive monetary compensation, MSL should have improved its labour relation practices to remain as a non-unionized organization. But HR managers at Manesar plant have supported the formation of a new union called Maruti Suzuki Workers’ Union so as to keep its leaders under management control. The Maruti Suzuki Workers Union

(MSWU) was formed at the behest of management very recently in March 2012 and in less than four months time such a friendly union has turned violent on 18th July 2012. It clearly demonstrates the kind of dubious labour relation practices prevailing in MSL.

After the 18th July 2012 violence; all the leaders of MSWU have been arrested by police and sent to jail and it is yet to be seen whether MSL will attempt to sponsor the formation of another union of workers or discourage the unionization activities or take a neutral stand.

Defense mechanism

While people all over the country are shocked at the way things are going wrong in MSL, its HR managers are tactfully behaving to deny the reality. HR head of MSL Mr. S.Y.Sidiquee has invited all his HR friends from other industries and made a presentation on 30th July 2012 to highlight the mistakes of MSL workers and to justify all the actions of managers which led to the violence at Manesar factory on 18th July 2012.

The senior most HR managers of MSL had started writing articles in business magazines and delivering lectures in managerial forums even before the injured managers were discharged from the hospital. These managers are yet to accept the universally accepted fact that progressive labour relation is a science which can be learnt and practiced.

The company has not accepted responsibility for the safety of its employees at work place and hence has not taken action against any managers for the collapse of security measures. Rather it is holding the frustrated workers responsible for the insecure climate prevailing at workplace.

The top management of MSL has gone one more step ahead. Instead of resolving the basic problems of workers to promote harmonious labour relations, it has started believing in superstition. Hence religious rituals were performed at Manesar plant by inviting South Indian Hindu priests from Karnataka to correct the so called Vaastu problems. The top management now believes that a graveyard and three temples existed at the sites which were destroyed to build

Manesar plant and hence labour unrest can be eliminated by conducting religious rituals.

Misconceived diversity

It is true that hiring people from all sections of the society brings diversity for business advantage but MSL practices diversity in wrong ways. Even though it hires people from all sections of the society the demarcation lines are clearly drawn. While people belonging to lower social strata of the society like scheduled castes and tribes are hired at worker level along with rural upper castes, the managerial cadre are dominated by urban elite from New Delhi. This kind of misplaced diversity policy has failed to promote common understanding between managers and workers rather it has given birth to social disharmony among its own managers and workers. It is important to note that organizational fabric cannot be strengthened without knowing the socio-cultural undercurrents among individuals and groups.

Taking revenge

It is not clear whether it is the desire of Suzuki bosses in Japan, or the Chairman of MSL in New Delhi or HR managers of the company to perpetuate the practice of vengeance against workers. The nature and scale of violence clearly shows that about 180 workers were responsible for planning and executing the violence at Manesar plant on 18th July 2012, which is corroborated by police investigation and labour department findings, but the management is summarily refusing to employ more than 500 workers without any charges being proved against them in the enquiry. It is easier to send home these workers with the assistance of police department, but such an unethical move would cause ugly wounds in the minds of remaining employees who are allowed work and every such unjust act of management may be retaliated unjustly by the workers in the days to come. Management and government may brand dismissed workers as bad but they have already earned a permanent place as martyrs in the minds of remaining employees.

Winners and losers

MSL has started operations in Mansear factory with effect from 21st August 2012, by terminating the services of nearly 500 workers. But it is difficult to judge the winners and losers in this battle. The basic reasons for the escalation of this conflict were just three namely (1) low wages (2) poor working conditions and (3) employing large number of contract workers. While MSL has retained the first two problems intact, it has come out with a solution which seems workable. Prior to the July 2012 violence the company had two contract workers for one regular worker or say 70: 30 ratio. Now MSL has resolved to reverse this ratio by having one contract worker for every two regular workers which appears to be a partial victory for the workers but the joy of regular employment may also be squeezed by management offering harsh working conditions and lower wages. Low wages and poor working conditions continue to be the thorns in the way of peaceful industrial relation in the days to come. It is immaterial whether the workers will unionize again or not, but the sooner MSL resolves these two fundamental labour problems the better its path for progress.
12th September 2012 From India, Ahmadabad
Hi Bhargavi Solanki,
I am really shocked after reading this case study since it open many flaws of MSL. I am still confused wheather the Govt. is still going to take any action or not. The methods mentioned above to deal with labours are really good and we all know in every negotiation you should go for the win- win situation. But the MSL are not taking any action to listen to the problems of there labour. Definately MONEY corrupted the seniors and the bribe method was taken to solve every strike.
MSL case study should be circulated to every one and every one should know that the Japanese are not that good in Managing things when it comes to MSL.
feeling sorry for the labours since they were very ill treated by the MSL :(
Very Nice Post and very very much informative........
12th September 2012 From India, Muzaffarnagar
Hi Bhargavi,
I have gone through the case study of yours relating to MSL. Its a good listen to all of us who are associated in HR Profession. MSL incident is just an eye opener for HR fraternity. Its high time that Govt. of India to think over the proper implementation of Industrial Dispute Act 1947 and related laws.
Nice informative post.
12th September 2012 From India, Siliguri
Dear Bhargavi
A True HR Person should know the labour laws well, the MSL authorities spends crores for HR Practices by leaving the real one IR Practices. Even, if you go through their Selection procedures for HR, it is purely HR only. It is revealed from the case study well, that every HR Person should know IR Practices too.
Especially when you working as "Plant HR" person, you should know labour laws too. Then only you can survive in the position. But this is not happened in MSL.
Thanks for sharing with the Society.
Thanks & Regards
Senior HR & IR Professional.
M: 098846 23097
14th September 2012 From India, Chennai
Hi Bhargavi,

Well thanks for sharing these information that you have presented here but could you please share something about your motive/purpose of this CASE STUDY OF HR. I mean, are you the researcher, student and or what was the idea behind getting these all information.

“A Case studies can be used for descriptive, explanatory, or exploratory purposes” that I guess you forget to share with us.

Second, what are the sources and references of collection of these data/details?

See, as we all are well aware of the problems happened in the past months with MSL but to talk about a company and showing facts directly without any connection, base and motive/purpose, or doing a good research and knowing about their past Practices that may influence to many that can really not be a good thing. Therefore, while discussing we must not forget to share our motive and sources/reference that we are using to share the information. “Even the students are defined the value of them by their teachers on why references/sources are important for a project report and how to use it”

You and many of knows many of things from Media/ industry people and other about the problems emerged during the time that hit MSL and other industry people badly but still we people who are sitting outside and not a part of MSL can’t actually claim what happened there internally and became the main cause that made all these mess. However, we can learn by the things and take actions at our own by considering the issues we have in our knowledge.

Your effort are appreciated but to let you know that the information you have collected are containing many issues/points that are not actually existing. Perhaps you dont knows history of MSL and their HR Practices. Maruti Suzuki has won many national and international awards since it began production and has established many big platforms and learning example to this world by by their strategies, effective Manpower Planning, Employee welfare and many.

Like B. RAVIMURUGAN highlighting some valid and valuable points here beautiful which is true but some unfortunate conditions, uncertainties and mistakes of few people that cause these all mess in past months, can never be consider for accusing the system and HR practice there.

@B. RAVIMURUGAN I would like to express my sincere thanks to you.

But yes we must learn from the problems that MSL has also presented if you are not updated. To get updates on the same i request you to please do more research and read the news about them and about the actions that has taken by MSL
19th November 2012 From India, Gurgaon
Mr. Anil Arora thanks for your concern.. Being an HR professional i wanted to share the information so i posted and I had done some valuable research from internet and i kept important information..
20th November 2012 From India, Ahmadabad
Dear Bhargavi,
Thanks for sharing this. it is really an eye opener in terms of labour relationship in manufacturing plant, many companies now are welcoming workers to escalate to higher level without interruption to make them feel heard.
Thanks & Regards,
22nd November 2012 From India, Bhagalpur
Dear Bhargavi,
You have taken a lot of pain to study MSL. But few of the points which you mentioned are contradictory.
1. Practically, HR mangaer is a executor of policies, which are framed by the top management. If the top managment is not having good vision, HR Manager will be in-effective in such conditions.
2. Metality of Japanese and Indian do not match in any way. We are managed by Indians.
3. Why Shivkumar and Sonu Gujjar should not be blamed, who acted against the workers of MSL.
4. There have been a change in attitute of the workers, when they are put on the permanent cadre of the company.
5. MSL management has taken positive view by providing assitance for formation of Union. In fact they did good thing, so that industrial peace and harmony can be maintained
23rd November 2012 From India, Surat
Dear Bhargavi,
Thanks for sharing the case study. First i was aware of one part the incident that was management and now you enlightened the worker\'s part which is really an eye opener for every HR professional.
Thanks &regards,
Asmita das
23rd November 2012 From India, Mumbai
Doctor can advise for precaution, how many of us take their advise as postive. What is the harm, if Mr. SY Sidiquee is promoted as Cheif Operating Officer.
Let us understand difference between Superstition and Science. Vaastu Shastra is a science like other science in the world.
There is no question arises to social stata of society. Rahul Gandhi being a son of Gandhi family, can work as labourer in MSL.
If workers feel that they are cheated by the management, then there is Govt machinary who can act prejudicially.
Yes, any person who is socially backward irrespect of cast or creed should be helped by all of us including Govt.
We need to study both sides of the coin, whether it is management or workers. One sided decesion is always harmful.
This is my person view as being in Industrial Relations for last thirty years.
With regards to your feelings.
23rd November 2012 From India, Surat
The Information that you have given is very exhaustive, though I have been keeping track of all the printed material on Maruti Case but did not find many information that you have provided. I would request you to provide proper citation / references.
24th November 2012 From India, New Delhi
Hi Every one,
Its a good initiation taken by Ms. Bhargavi, projecting the issue in shot and opened it for discussions. Since, perception and analysis of individuals differ, its the time to give the actual conclusion referring all the pros and corns, learn from the mistakes and try to suggest the better ways keeping this as a alarm for IR practices.
Hope, Seniors will definetly put their views in this sensitive issue.
27th November 2012 From India, Bangalore
Pls find attached ppt for case study....
29th November 2012 From United States, Columbus

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File Type: pptx Maruti Manesar Report.pptx (147.9 KB, 367 views)

Dear Dhara,
Your slides are good but need to know in depth and penetrate the problems stated. The ratio of permanent and Temp workforce is 30:70, they have narrowed the ratio recently but is it a solution of the problem? Are workers really compensated not fairly? Then Govt. should come forward with solution. But remuneration is not only reason, HR professional needs to penetrate deep into the real reason. I think cognitive approach in real work field will make a difference. Work Supervisor needs to make cohesive ambiance to work smoothly. Ultimately they are the one who are called personnel Manager first.
Deepa Srivastava
29th November 2012 From India, Bhagalpur
Thank U Bhargavi for your post.
I must say in India companies thinks dt they cn do all there work by giving bribe. we all should stand with this matter and try to implement frendly HR practices in our organisations atleast.
1st December 2012 From India, Kolkata
Hi Friends,

Ours is a manufacturing concern and right now we are going through the same phase what had been with MSL. Cost management is one of the KRAs for HR Department and also you have to see the productivity of each employee and the effective utilization of available resources. Obviously as HR professional, you have to score on your KRAs. It is so observed, when a contract or causal employee is made regular employee his efficiency level proportionately goes down. Some of them become more indiscipline especially when they are unionized. Ultimately HR department has to spend more time in dealing frivolous issues than implementing some innovative and constructive HR practices. Practically it is very challenging. Union rep works with single motive of creating problems with the help of hand picked so called workers rep and getting favour from the management in disguise. Unionized workers are really very tough to handle with and finally workers and management both become victims in the hands of Union representatives.

Can any of you suggest, how to pre- empt MSL kind of situation ??

Ram Singh

2nd December 2012 From India, Mumbai

1.The supervisor had to be suspended and domestic inquiry has to be initiated against him also.
2.Management was need to be transparent,rational and must follow principle of equality.
Workers -
1.The worker was only suspended for domestic inquiry not dismissed.
2.Why they have not waited for domestic inquiry?
3.In domestic inquiry equal opportunity always given to refute the charges and given his evidence,to cross examine the witness of management.
4.Why the labor department was not approached by any of the senior union leaders if working conditions were harsh, wages were low and large number of contract labor was appointed ?
5.Why the workers who provoked and involved in the violence not advised other workers also not to take law into their hand?
Dear Bhargavi,
I completely disagree with the following points -
1.It is also important to be careful about the workers who have nothing to lose.
2.The workers are left with the only option of expressing anger at

8th December 2012 From India, New Delhi
Dear Bhargavi
On reading your case study my reactions were the similar to that of Mr. Anil Kumar Arora. On the face of it, it seems one sided and biased - not an objective and balanced one. Its a well known fact that the workers at MSL are handsomely paid. I may be wrong but my feeling is - regular workers at any organization are a class apart from the contract workers and don't even mingle well - what to talk of empathizing with them!
Regards - rsdv
10th December 2012 From India, Indore
Hi Bhargavi
I appreciate the time and effort you took to make a deep research and prepare a report based on the study...But pls keep in mind, whenever you prepare report or do a case study ... you need to study both the parties in the case and prepare positives and negatives of both sides.This report actually shows the details only from one side of the case which are the workers of the company. It will be good if u can equally make a study from the company's side as well and then make a clear report based on the findings from both the parties.
Anyways good attempt.. all the best
14th December 2012 From India, Kochi
Dear Friends,
If You all want to understand the Maruti IR issues from professional and academic perspective in totality, you can go through this case study published in Sep.12 issue of Business manager magazine.
This case study from the magazine has also been taken up for MBA students by many institutes to learn the intricacies of Employees relations.
anil kaushik
16th December 2012 From India, Delhi
Dear Bhargavi,
thanks for sharing the case , which is a very good lesson for all the HR persons to maintain a good culture in the organization for the fruit full of the company. Any how we have to think about the workers also as they are the peoples who contribute their efforts towards the company.
16th December 2012 From India, Mumbai
Dear Bhargavi,
This is really interesting and useful for the freshers in the field of HR/ HR faternity..........
Thank you very much plz keep updating like this information for us ( freshers) to develop our professionallity...
Anil kakarla
17th December 2012 From India, Visakhapatnam
Dear Bhargavi,

Thanks for posting this. To many friends, it may seem inappropriate that Maruti Suzuki has been named directly and opinions directed against them. But all these things are already in the public domain and you have only brought it up in this HR Forum. This is welcome. And it may not harm the interests of Maruti Suzuki if all of us patiently follow the threads and gather bits of critical comments for war gaming the turn of events and formalise our way ahead. It can happen in any company, anywhere in the world.

- Pain:Good for health. Every company, worth its name must compile their worst case studies, brainstorm and come to an understanding of what went wrong, where, why, since when!! Getting into a self congratulatory chuckle and a false belief of everything being hunky dory, is a sure sign of the impending storm. Pain is not bad, because it tells us the problem our body has, that needs to be cured. Not having a problem is not ideal for an organization..there are multiferous activities happening in a manufacturing unit...production, security, fire safety, raw materials, logistics etc.etc. and there would be issues that need to be resolved. As managers, we have to identify them fast, try to resolve, escalate it timely and advise the management appropriately, in a forthright manner. For heaven's sake, do not sugarcoat for fear of being blamed for the lapse. A stitch in time....!!

- What is in a name? For us Indians, it is everything. Big names are intimidating for sure. And therein comes an aura of invincibility, impeccability and infallibility. And when the occupants of such titanic ships sleep in a complacent slumber, no one would imagine that an iceberg may be on its way and their master captain may falter in timely course correction. I too was surprised at the turn of events. I had gone through the gruelling spells of TPM and Kaizen to understand the Japanese management methods. Implementation and indigenisation of any and every concept must always follow. We as managers, must understand that, like technology, even concepts become trite and need to be made specific to the current environment.

- Processes and ISO syndrome. ISO certifications are necessary in today's international business. We all know, following the misty and slippery haze of 9000/14000/18000/TSXXXX etc. and keeping pace with the gruelling audit schedules at the cost of productive interventions in the field is not easy. It comes at a huge cost..most of the CEOs are, in their heart of hearts, better without them. Thankfully they have now been integrated. But, they all talk about processes and documented procedures. And all HR managers know, it is not a rocket science. Well developed processes, procedures and systems are the lifelines of any company. What these ISOs do not teach us and cannot fathom is the art of man management. Labour relations is one such aspect. Getting certified and passing the audit muster is no barometer for either spring or autumn in an organization. It lies deep within.

- Managing Labour relations. It is too complex to be fully understood by any one of us. But what is clear is that human beings need to be led and not managed. We lead by personal example, transparency, humanness, shared values, walking the talk, sharing the fruits and respecting the sensibilities of the people we lead. And we manage them through sticks, policies, backdoor negotiations and rules. Managing is easy, leading is not, as leading requires us to let go of our comfort zones, restrict our privileges and devoting more time towards our workers. Leading evokes respect while managing is derogatory. A famous military vow that every army officer has to take goes like this...." safety, honour and welfare of your country ( your company) comes first...always and, honour and welfare of the men you command (workers) come next....your own safety and welfare come last..always and everytime." Can we replicate it for the company that we draw our sustenance from?

Abdul kalam, our ex president, as the boss in DRDO, is believed to have taken the children of a junior officer to a fair himself, as the officer was busy in his work and could not keep his promise of taking his children there...this he did without the officer even knowing about it. This is leadership. Do we remember all our workers...their family issues? Have we got involved in their daily hardships?? I dont know, how many of us do. But, a pat on the shoulder is worth many increments.

- Ownership. Are we ready to acknowledge that our work and hence that company we work for, has only remained a means of our sustenance/livelihood and its well being do not figure into our scheme of things. They remain the ladder through which we negotiate the snakes and reach to a higher position in another company. Instead of having meetings galore, do we spend enough time on factors really pushing productivity of workers rather than making pi charts and presenting them in good english during review meetings!! Are we advising the management correctly even at the cost of earning their ire and disturbing their game of golf or the goblet of chilled wine. As management, are we ready to listen to our line managers, pay heed to the emanating smoke and support them? There is a famous line..." war is too dangerous a matter to be left to the generals". Labour relations are also sensitive and needs a firm grip by the management. If everyone is playing safe and passing the buck - from AM-AGM to VP, who is going to bell the cat?

- Fancy for Cosmetic jargonism. HR seems to have collected such a treasure of fanciful terminologies and OD diagnostics that it has become incomprehensible by the general public, like me. It is scary, to say the least. And the companies, in a bid to outdo the other, compete and rustle after the plethora of such surgeons to get their house in order. Millions spent on such extravaganzas are justified. But, try and take a sanction for some hot water containers or better chairs for the workers rest rooms and you hit a bottleneck!! Spend small amounts in a productive manner for the workers and it yields geometric dividends. Please try it out. How many of us have seen companies spending lakhs on team building events for executives in star hotels but scuttling your bids for a fresh pair of sports uniforms for the cricket team!! Penny wise and .........!! I sometimes feel, like Indian policy makers and the parliament too, let us freeze any more interventions, any new HR policies and get hold of what is alreadepths of oury existing and try to implement it in true spirit. Let our practical approach to problem solving be simple and not become a host to the complex matrices and unfathomable depths as we come across while negotiating the minefield of appraisal forms.

Quality of Leaders. As Bhargavi has pointed out, any mismatch between the workers and their managers is bound to create friction. All our workers come from villages, with poor backgrounds and fixed beliefs. They have their own perceptions and expectations. We can drive our production. But we can not drive the workers. Productivity has to be induced through positive strokes, healthy interventions and good rapport between the managers and workers. Indian workers are not as demanding as their western counterparts and do not wish parity with the managers, as the western workers are entitled too and is permitted by their culture. Thus our managers, can really lead their workers very well, by being a part of them.

I thank you all and wish that such events do not descend in your organizations. Your positive approach would make things easier for future.

Thanks to Bhargavi. It is a problem, relevant for the whole industry and through this forum, lessons must emerge.
23rd December 2012 From India, Delhi
first, the reason provided here for the latest voilence is that supervisor has made some cast based comment on worker is False, because supervisor is also belong to the same cast.
second this movement is pre-planned because they are well prepared for attack and....
third what ever may be the reason you don't have to become voilent for fullfilling your demands....
may be there is some failur on the part of the management and HR, but the labour politics is also responsible for the same...
i have seen many instance where unions are demands manu things which are not possible or sometimes supporting the worker which have faults on his side....
so this is a good study but i hope that the same also cover the part of HR/ Management that how they are feeling when they are getting blackmail by these unions....
Thanks & Regards
Prakash Rathi
25th December 2012 From United States, Ashburn
Dear Bhargavi,
I appreciate the write up and understanding about the matter which give us different perspective about the Incidence.
i am not aware about sources from where you have collected the data but i would like to tell the HR managers are not allowed in most of the organization to do the justice because policies are formed from top management and we have to implement that so we have very limited option to implement things on the ground reality .
I just suggest senior officials of any organization they must understand the ground reality and that can be only done by involving to lower level management.
28th December 2012 From India, Delhi
Thank you Bhargavi,
It was very informative & also enabling HR professionals to take right action, at bad times i.e industrial disputes.The concerns you emphasized is not only happening to MSL but also to its Vendors & ancillaries.
But the case u discussed also has a story of a GM HR, He was known to be very humble, favorable to mainly contract workers & a artist in negotiation skills.
A good labor cant take a live!!!
thank u
3rd January 2013 From India, Delhi
HI Bhargavi Hope it needs to reach each and every HR person to know the management behaviour in respect of handling workers. keep on posting. KHS
11th January 2013 From India, Hyderabad
Thanks, Bhargavi for sharing valuable case study of MSL. But I would like to raise a point here, HR Professionals are just middleman between Board Rooms and Human resource. Even in MSL. gentleman who lost his life was in the same position. Your policies after discussion from Boardrooms do not come out with positive signs. That is the main problem in our country. We talk a lot about betterment of working conditions but all in vain. Our Indian Professionals associated with the MSL have already taught them a lot of things to manage industry here.
Mukesh Sharma
12th January 2013 From India, Dehra Dun
Dear Bhargavi,
Thank you so much to share the thinking case study to us, in this case study says to us the importance of relation between the HR and the employees when a problem arise the concern no one can stop the problem so the HR wants to move carefully in the modern business environment we can argue about the topics but one can go deeply the problems it says a big corruption happen in the departmental wise the corruption successfully managed by the top level through the violence,we know clearly employees efforts or skill directly converted the production or profit of the company so the company could not make it an issues from the side of any employees especially the Japaneses firms,why am saying this matter in here because of the Japanese policy of HR not related to this cases They provide a life time employment in the employee then how it match the present situation, Here am once more quoted "we can play with the fire but we cant play with the employees" .
14th January 2013 From India, Ernakulam
Dear Bhargavi,

You have unveiled the truth of Industries in our country. It is all same as Britishers were doing, Landlords (Jamindars) had done and are still doing in UP,MP, Bihar, Jharkhand and in many northern and Southern states, and Contractors are doing in our country. This reality of Exploitation, Autocracy is learned from Modern Management sciences developed in USA, Europe (Britain, France, Germany ) like other many countries.

Many Industries/Companies are practicing the same as Management has been practicing in MSL. In Pithampur (Near -Indore) Madhya Pradesh the industry Kinetic Honda Now Mahindra Motors, is doing the same.

Many Industries are preferring to employ contractual labour only but Managers are permanent. The salary/remunaeration given to employees- worker is rarely increased or increased as hundred two hundred only . But for Managers it is 20000, 500000. double trible.

What teh Managers do they suggest that the job which is done in 2 miniutes should be done in one minutes are two jobs in two minutes. To implement KAIZEN or the systems invented in USA, Japan but not the Salary in Japan.

Thankyou Bhargavi
16th January 2013 From India, Indore
Its realy gud to know about this case study. Its really shows one thing labour laws are always implies about labour wellfare and improve management productivity but here in MSL they implemented laws which is not providing wellfare of labour.
Dragedy is govt is not involved at any part..
18th January 2013 From India, Chennai
Dear Bhargavi,
Your efforts are appreciable. The incident in MSL was a real lesson for the HR fraternity that the HR should rise to the expectations and emotions of the lower strata of manpower and modify the age-old policies and practices to take them along for a better standard of living.
21st January 2013 From India, Mumbai
Dear Friends,
I have gone through this Case study many times and tried not to comment on it but when ever I check Home it comes so I am just compelled to say few words.
1st the facts and figures mentioned are doubtful.
Secondly MSL is far better in all the spheres of Management then most of the Indian Companies.
3rdly the practice of Contract labor is an accepted fact in Indian Industries and unnecessary and illogical demands and labor unrest and biased labor Laws are responsible for this practice.
As a whole I feel the writer is biased against M S L and the Case Study is too one sided.
24th January 2013 From India, Delhi
Thanks Bhargavi This case study is most informative one. This is very useful for all HR guys.The Government initiate to take action againt for this issue. But Government officials are not taken any action to that organisation because the money will play.
30th January 2013 From India, Chennai
Dear Bhargavi

I have gone through your article and my observations are as under.

1. It is the prerogative of the management to decide the ratio of permanent workers vs. contract workers. So long they are paying the minimum wages and the facilities required as per law there is nothing wrong. In fact this practice is followed by most of the Navaratna companies of Govt. of India. The difference of wages of the permanent workers and the contract workers is also there in these companies and it is substantial.

2. There was a dispute as cited in the article between the supervisor and the worker which is common in the Industries. The issue is whether the industrial unrest was because it was not handled properly or other reasons. It apparently appears that the cited dispute may not be the correct reason there may be other reasons also.

3. As an HR specialist one should not only present the case, but also identify the problem and suggest solutions considering the practice in various industries. The article is not exactly case study; it is report of the incident at MSL.

4. It is requested that you consider the existing industrial scenario and then present the article because there are some interesting comments which are as follows

a. Permanent workers’ productivity is not high as that of contract workers. Why it is so?

b. In the article itself it is mentioned that the reasons for escalation of conflict was due to low wages, poor working conditions and large number of contract workers. How do you justify these whether the wages were lower than the permanent workers or minimum wages. What way the working conditions were poor? In a shop floor permanent and contract workers both have to work then how the conditions differ when the shop floor is same. How large number of contract workers matter. Are you suggesting that all these workers should be made permanent? With this prescription the labor dispute may be solved for the time being but the company will be dead. If it is a viable solution then giant PSU don’t do this.

c. Can you cite in India a company where union activities have boosted up productivity or have improved the conditions of the workmen?

5. I think in our system there is no proper check and balance either for the workmen/ Union or the management. Both try to exploit when they get an opportunity. Sometimes we are only responsible for this type of situation some HR managers just to show the efficiency or the saving made by them towards the cost to company curtail the benefit management is willing to give to its employees.
30th January 2013 From India, Vijayawada
Dear Bhargavi,

Thanks a lot for sharing MSIL inside information and really it is worth reading and it should not happend if it is real.

I have been in HR Profeesion more than 20 years and worked MNC companies, what I feel, any reputed or progressive companies never go against to the workers. They know the Human resources are very important for their sustenance and development.

In top companies, there are certain elements generally provoke and bring unrest to the workers for their personal vendetaa or political gain. I just want to give one instance happened during my career, one of female employee sexually harassed by her male collegue. The affected girl secretarly reported the matter to HRD. HRD called the man and given serious warning and also issued disciplinary notice. After 15 days, the same man spreaded false information about management & management functioning and collected a group of people and start threatening to HR department on some other issues and finally went for total strike. Later, it was very difficult task to bring it down to control. Similarly many instances are there. As such, we need to check with both side of argument and decide on any issue.
1st February 2013 From India, Chennai
Dear Bhargavi,
I do agree with Mr. Anil Arora & Mr. Ravimurgan. As an outsiders, without knowing the fact, we can't comment or apply our notions about any such Organization, People or Practices. Though, we all have sympathy with whatever happened, we must refrain from doing so. Moreover, knowing & being well versed with IR Laws actually helps a lot in such situation, because Laws & Systems- if use correctly can do wonders & prevent such possible situations. Also, pls be careful to post such case study or your personal views on any bigger platform as not everyone likes such direct Conclusion. So, I must say that, pls put/ write your Purpose or Objective of this case study, Sources & references, etc... (as correctly suggested by Mr. Anil). Pls do some more home work on the same. Hope you will not take any suggestion by Cite members personally, as its our responsibility to guide/ advice & put our convictions across to help each other.
7th February 2013 From Japan
Dear Bhargavi,
I would like to thank and appreciate all of your efforts for sharing the valuable information related to the labour dispute happened in MSL. I would also like to emphasize on the labour welfare part. We need to understand their need and act accordingly. Only thinking of win - win situation as far as negotiation is concerned may not help for a long and healthy industrial relation and peace. really very informative case study... Diptiranjan Das
13th February 2013 From India, Keonjhar
Dear All
Its totally shame to All HR Professionals that Many Popular organization are using contractual staff in HR Department after knowing very well that under CL (R&A) Act 1970 and rules 1971 organization can not engage on core activity. So i think all HR professionals is responsible for voilation of labour laws.
14th February 2013 From India, Mumbai
good topic to discuss...............................................................................................
20th February 2013 From India, Guwahati
yes rightly said i agree with you but the labours are the scape goats here........ and they are waiting for a positive turn................
20th February 2013 From India, Guwahati
One point I want to stress is that, even though the MSL has earned the best management practices in the international forum, conditions in the India is different like culture, habits, education. The HR policies are in MSL are made by Japanese HR persons. They have little knowledge about the local customs and conditions, educations etc. Their policies may be well in Japan envirornment but it does not work in the Indian conditions. Same is in the case of NOKIA and Hyundai Motors also which are multinationals and even claim that best HR practices are implemented. Rise in cost of living, decrease in the real wages is creating frustation in the workforce not only in the MSL and other parts also. So first thing is to give the worker a comfortable living and good working conditions, social security and medical and health requirements to be fulfilled giving recognition to their efforts. We have to take care of these things to keep the employees happy.
T.Mahendar Reddy
26th February 2013 From India, Hyderabad
Dear sir, can any one provide me a complite prosicution of the this case.
27th February 2013 From India, Mumbai
Hi Bhargavi & other friends,
Can anyone explain the role of government machinery in MSL case? What was the role of ALC & DLC in regards to 70% contract labour deployment in running factory? Was there any legal case/show cause between Haryana Govt. & MSL?
Thank You
2nd March 2013 From India, New Delhi
Hi All,

Most of the Managements ask the question " What can you save for us? Labour costs are going up, how can we accommodate this, cost of production will go up, for which many of the contractors do tricks in payscales, even minimum wages are not paid in many listed industries, workers are made to stay in rooms which are in unhealthy conditions, away from families, they are forced to work for more that 16 hours a day with single OT. Whenever they approach for leave are told "Tumhara kam kaun karega, Tum ko kam nahi chatha chale jao".

All these are again fabricated and shown to the relevant departments, where in authorities / officers take some bribe and say "ALL IS WELL".

Many just bothers about adherence to labour laws or statutory compliance measures. Thus, a much bigger approach is required to tackle.

Performance will be based on "Savings". So all the drama goes on. Many corporates do follow this approach. Also the population adds to the crisis, "TUM NAHI TO DOOSRA" is the buzz word.

5th March 2013 From India, Bangalore
Dear Friends i am conducting a research project on trade unions and globalization i would like to know your inputs regarding the same regards Dr Mohsin shaikh 9604012473
8th March 2013 From India, Pune
Dear Bhargavi,
on that ugly day i was there.
at that time i was thinking that it was completely the misbehaved by worker.
But know i know that the situation of the time and some inappropriate steps
leads to this kind of tragedy. but yet worker's are only working because of there basic need other wise
maruti will be shuttered for whole.
9th March 2013 From India, Rohtak
Thanks Aroraji..Yes..50% of the HR's who are branded as "Plant HR", without knowing the labour laws and not knowing the organisation climate, have been hit badly by the external force. HR has to study the situation and act accordingly without any demerits. We cannot blame the Management too, since they don't know the underlying current, which is nothing but the situation.
We have to balance with Employee and Employer, let us take the ratio as 60% for the Employer and 40% for the Employee, but some of our HR not even considering for 20% ratio for the employees, that's why, they have been hit badly by a Group. Let us understand the real scenario and play our role well.
Thanks & Regards
Senior HR & IR Professional.
20th March 2015 From India, Chennai
Dear Bhargavi Solanki,
This case is an eye opener. But it has not awaken the Industries yet.
Many industry have yet to improve and treat human being (worker) as human being.
Still the Managers who a suggest to reduce time between processes and apply KAIZEN and other methods of Work improvement or so called Production and productivity increase. Managers suggest these and get hike in package, on the other hand the worker the real performer is squeezed into the system but his /her salary remains same (which happens to be 1/4 max. of the Managers).
Manesar Plant has possibly overlooked and appreciated the Managers only and ignored the human behaviour also.
Your write -up is still important and of value for the HR professionals and teachers/students.
4th January 2016 From India, Indore
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