The way you are dealing with your workmen will never give you a peaceful environment. Standing near machines and watching their talks etc., will never solve the purpose. It may go to less than 20 to 30 % of the total capacity of the production also in future. They may rise issues on machines, facilities were not good, Raw material is not good, need more manpower, etc., so, you cannot find a permanent solution. It will keep on growing one by one.
Best is to call the office bearers and conduct a meeting in a hotel or in a decent environment, discuss with them and ask them to give their demands in writing and tell them that you will discuss with top management and get maximum you can get. Get the word from them that, in the mean time, you need to show 100% output to change the top management mindset.
This type of approach will give you better result. Once the negotiations are completed, put a 12(3) settlement in front of the Labour commissioner and start working peacefully.
Dont fight with them. This will never keep you in peace. All the best
You might have read the Sangam poem "அடுதல் மாநிடர்க்கியல்பே" ( confrontation is the nature of mankind). For Unionists such tendency would be more because they always stand to get more from employers in order to make their presence felt. So, try to have a mindset that it is not a threat but an opportunity to listen to their grievances first and impress upon them that the Management is always ready to redress their genuine grievances through a formal meeting in an informal ambience as suggested by Stephan. By the by, the way the union leaders ( probably plant level) that too within a year of unionisation expressed their objection compells me to think otherwise that you might have by all means stalled the union formation at the beginning and may be lacking in statutary compliance as well as stringent in pecuniary demands. So try to have a self-introspection and impress upon your top management the necessity for amicable industrial relations.
In my opinion if union or representatives creating problem "work committee" with one legal consultant can manage the issue. Go slow practice is such a problem which needs slow remedy. Continuous contact with union, employees will improve situation. Otherwise go slow can lead into strikes and lockout.
So far, no further elaboration from your side despite the fact that most of the responses could be viewed as an allusion to the universal fact that there is no smoke without fire and your immediate action should be putting out the fire first rather than fanning the smoke. Though much care and caution have been exercised in the framing of the thread so as to divert one's focussed attention only to the latest incident of high handed behaviour of the union office bearers questioning the authority of the Management to have direct interaction with its workforce on the issue of "go-slow" lingerig for about six months time, inadvertantly it reveals the other hidden facts. Perhaps, you might be helpless as the top management might have the despicable disposition and natural apathy towards unionisation of the workmen. No employer can ever fully satisfy the needs of his employees. So demands would always be there and the continued neglect of the management would naturally culminate in unionisation of the workmen. The initial apathy shown by the management towards this development and the subsequent efforts to scuttle the formation of the trade union would not only accelerate the process but also result in concerted counter-actions to tow down the management. Therefore, good sense should prevail over the management that the purpose of running an industry is not to fight with its another stake holder. The organisational goals can be achieved only with the active participation and proactive support of the workmen employed therein. To gain this, you should first recognize the representative charater of the trade union. Trade union leaders whether external or plant-level are not men from alien worlds. They are well aware of the industry as well as the limits of their demands. Only thing they are highly irreconcilable with is down sizing. Common sense knows the doctrine of impossibility of performance. So open the doors for negotiation.
Based on what you mentioned, it DEFINITELY seems that there are strong & valid reasons as the background Pre-last year which led to the formation of the Union.
While there's nothing illegal in forming a Union for a manufacturing premises of ~90 staff, it does indicate that there's something very drastically wrong in the working environment. I know of manufacturing plants with ~1000 employees without any Union & things running smoothly.
Like the other members suggested, FIRST get to the bottom of the situation.....figure-out reasons WHY. Only then can you even think of POSSIBLE solutions....implementation would come much later in the cycle.
Most likely, you WOULD need to go back into work-environment history of your organization......to get to the genesis of the issue. Such situations DON'T develop overnight....they evolve over a period of time. That the Union was formed last year was ONLY the symptom that manifested.
And also let's get one thing right......once anyone [you, me & everyone included] WANTS to disrupt, he/she will find a way to do it, since such decisions are taken on the EMOTIONAL plane & NOT logical plane. The employees now don't SEEM to care even if their salaries MAY get effected.
Even if you place a policeman behind each machine, they will still find a way to disrupt.....albeit in different ways. And like other members pointed-out, things will only get worse with such acts by the management......DON'T take it to a point-of-no-return.
All the Best.
10th August 2015 From India, Madras
10th August 2015 From India, Madras
So many practical solution is given which can work better to your problem. Neglect of workforce and denying their basic right will create such a situation.That to majority of workforce joined in an union within a year of start up is not healthy for any organisation.Management sometimes put lot of pressure on HR to implement their design but as a HR it is our duty to convince and get the things move in a positive direction.Go slow cannot be rectified until unless we take out that thought from the workers mind,Start negotiation otherwise it is too late and things may go out of your way.
The union is formed for the very first time and go slow is there at its instance for the past six months or more.You know better from persisting systems that there are demands and your organization is not noticing, not resolving and ignoring union and labour force. As majority is there you need to immediately sit first before top management and prepare your replies , solutions what as management you otherwise will respond . Speak to management that dialogue with Union is only way out and already delay has made situation bit difficult. Today, they are stopping HR and tomorrow every body individually or your whole group . Go slow is like slow poison which will cause death certainly but it takes time . It takes time means it provides a sick person opportunity to overcome disease as fast as he can AND manage treatment. You can consult an IR consultant for flawless action and support you as there may be multiple other issues for go slow .and possible problem situations that management has to address and provide solutions/
Labour Laws Adviser,
Director-Future Institute of Management and Technology,
Thank you all for your valuable comments.
The issue we have is this is the 3rd change of Union in the past one year. Every time we are at the verge of reaching a settlement the Workmen change the Union. This month the workmen have gone back to the Union that represented them in Jan and Feb period. In March a new Union read as 3rd Union submitted to us a copy of its registration in the labour office. From April we started to cut the Union subscription and held 5 rounds of talks with this Union. When the things were getting to a level of acceptance from the Union General secretary side, the workmen went back to their previous union and all this while we have constantly urging them to not to resort to Go slow activities but the workmen are not heeding to our request, we have now filed a dispute with the labour department.
The thing i wanted to really know was what disciplinary actions can be taken against the erring workmen.
Excellent discussion by all the learned members on your thread. Thanks to them.
It seems to me, your management is mishandling the situation. Of course handling such situation is a skill and HR has to play major role in it.
HR has to play its role not by standing near the machines to find out what is happening. HR has to invite the statistics and complaints from plant supervisory level on Go-Slow. Mind well, Go-Slow tactic by employees is very difficult to prove even with statistics and complaints from plant level. HR has to highlight on this statistics and complaints in front of erring employees and union too. HR has to highlight the incidences of employees which attributed to dropping down the production level. HR has to display various notices mentioning all this statistics, complaints and incidences of employees which attributed to dropping down the production level advising the employees to bring normalcy in the production level and bring conducive atmosphere for healthy Industrial Relation. All such notices should be forwarded to Labour Commissionate office. This may help the company in conciliation and in labour court in future.
At times the HR has to take disciplinary actions against some of the erring employees. Play the divide and rule policy but to be fare and firm with maintaining balance.
Handling IR is a skill which I find the new generation of HR is lagging behind, perhaps according to them this is not their job. I am very sorry to say it.