Dear sir, Some of workers have built up union with 1/10 of our employee strength and before putting any demand they started sending letters to all labour dept. i.e. GLO,Fact., PF & ESIC office, Labour Ministry + CM office stating that there is unfair labour practice (ULP). After putting and having long discussion + negotiation they enter with an agreement and wage settlement. In that agreement they have clearly mention that all issue cleared and we are withdrawing all letters plus Court file cases against company signed by all members.

Union had given letter to all respective labour dept that all matter cleared and no issue and submitted us acknowledge copy duly stamped by concern dept. But problem started that on basis of complaint now that PF - raised 7A case, Ministry of labour send inquiry under 'Shram Suvidha' to ESIC dept and they asked to produce 4 years all record. GLO visited and raised query under different act. Fact. Inspt. officer now we are waiting to visit rest we do not know.

We have shown all records to all dept.and all officers told that just because of Union's letter we have to visit and we know this is nothing but nuisance or harassement to company.

Ours is an engineering unit. Seniors do we have any thing to do against Union?

Pls guide us.

From India, Pune
Dear Dixit,
This is a normal case, they tired their luck by writing to all the relevant authorities, now authorities will try to get something from this. This will continue for some time, till you build good relationship with such authorities. You must handle the union in a very professionally and ensure that they keep all records of meetings etc. Ofcourse, they will falter and identify who are the trouble makers. I am sure, they must got some outside support either from some political parties or local leaders, important to know, what is their next step. If you do not manage this well, you are sure to have problems in future....

From India, Madras
Dear Ajit,

Your query has come too late. What you would be doing is closing the stable door after the horse has bolted. You or your management could have been little more cautious in finding out who are fomenting the trouble in the company. You could have nipped union activities in the bud.

How is the overall Industrial Relations (IR) environment where your company is located? Does any labour union wanted to spread its wings and took your company under its fold? With the union already formed, at this stage, I doubt whether you will be able to do anything. Nevertheless, there is silver lining to the entire episode. With all inspections over, you can be tension free for at least next 3-4 years.

Why workers join labour union? They form or join labour union because of the estrangement or disconnect with the HR or Management. Labour union fills the gap caused out of disconnect between management and the workers.

Intransigence is the hallmark of labour unions. Hereafter you have to put up with this chronic disease. Occasionally you may apply the liniment to ease the pain but you cannot eradicate the disease per se.

Hereafter you need to "manage" the labour union. As of now just tenth of employees are members of labour union. Act covertly to ensure their membership does not grow further. Secondly, your management has great responsibility in ensuring that employees are properly engaged with the company. For this, develop career plans of the employees. Encourage the upward communication. Develop healthy interpersonal environment in your company by training your managers on interpersonal skills.

All the best!

Dinesh Divekar

From India, Bangalore

How old is your company?

How many workers?

Which industry?.

What is the rate of attrition in your factory/company?

Every company is expected to do certain compliances based on which state you are operating.

Maintain your records in proper and presentable manner.By and large if you are complaint with laws,there is nothing much to worry about.

If you have a Shram Suvidha a/c,just use that to generate all returns filed and show it checking staff of labour office.

Having said this,have an in house review of how your IR is going on.

Do not hesitate call these TU leaders or a discussion and find out what they want.

Tell them by roping in regulatory agencies they are inviting more problems that what they think.

When regulatory authorities find the company is by and large complaint,they will start ignoring the TU leaders who may be having an axe to grind,rather than really think of labour welfare.

If TU was really thinking of labour welfare,they would first try and engage with management and only when all fails think of strikes,complaint to labour office etc.

Your organisation needs to find out what is their real crib?

Managing TU and handling them is a very important aspect of any company's work.Pay attention to the TU and strategically win them to great extent.

Floor level interaction with workers is one good way of knowing their pulse.

Be connected with labour and quick resolution of problems is one way of keeping unions irrelevant.

When was the last wage hike?

Due care and friendly atmosphere can help you sort out such issues.

These issues arise in all organisations and learn to take them in your stride.

From India, Pune
Dear Ajit,

To me the entire episode seems to be the negative impact of poor handling of industrial relations by the Management right from the very beginning. The fact mentioned in your conspectus of the case that 10% of your workmen, by forming a Trade Union, had taken the management for such a successful ride, though which resulted in an amicable settlement ( may be bilateral? ) that their earlier sling-shots started hurting you now.

Do you think really that the mere 10% of the unionised labour was the sole reason behind all the negotiations that culminated in a wage settlement? No, the genuine necessity of the revision of the wages and the fairness behind the other demands plus the tacit sympathy of the rest of the labour force might have played a larger part in this.

I have to concur with the view of Mr.Dinesh that intransigence is the hallmark of Trade Unions of Labour. Not only the disconnect or estrangement of the relationship between the Labour and the Management regarding certain lawful expectations and obligations, the initial apathy towards the genuine grievances of the employees coupled with the tacit efforts of the Management to stall the formation of the Union are also the reasons for the Unions' intransigent attitude in the matter of grievance redress. Of course it is true that if we scratch our heads we'll find ego. The Management's psyche will not easily accept the presence of a third party, particularly a vociferous outsider in between their labour and themselves. No other go - you have to recognize such a person along with his ego for the simple reason that forming a Trade Union is a fundamental right. If you develop a mindset that a TU is a parallel institution bridging the gulf between the employer and employees, certainly you will be more interested in convincing and getting convinced rather than puncturing others' ego and precipitating matters thereby.

Coming to the complaints filed by the Union earlier and pursued by the Govt. agencies now. Though the Union agreed to withdraw the complaints it filed earlier, if the complaints are genuine involving money like that of a proceeding under sec.7A of the EPF Act, you can not avoid further action till the monetary commitments are fulfilled by yuo together with penal interest if any. If not openly, every Management should honestly admit at least to itself that most of the Managements are not complying with certain legislations like EPF, ESIC, CLRA Act, MW Act, PW act, Provisions relating to working hours of establishment-related legislations to some extent for the sake of economy as well as practical convenience which is otherwise called flexibility of employment. Our central, state and local Trade Unions know it well of course.

So, don't try to do anything 'against' the Trade Union now. Just 'manage' it as suggested by Dinesh.

From India, Salem
I need to add one point .
Pl inform whether 12(3) settlement is signed with Union or Not . If 12(3) settlement is signed , then by default it disqualify any fresh demands/disputes to be raised during the settlement period .
Some times we need to transfer wisdom to both Govt agencies, & Union apart from Top management .
Please clarify this point please
Dr Sureshkumar

From India, Mumbai
1. Sir, eminent experts and seniors have already expressed their views in this thread as above. However, I may want to indicate that in my opinion, various visits of officers and inspectors from various departments may kindly not be treated as "nuisance or harassment to company". When a trade union or a group of workers have complained to any department of the government of India or appropriate State Govt, then it is the duty of such department to investigate and go into the truth of allegations etc. as levelled again the said unit or employer. If the issue has now been settled between the group of workers or trade union, even then the appropriate departments will like to have the reports or investigations by their field staff. Therefore, in my opinion, the employer or his HR officials should consider such actions by authorities as necessary consequences of such conflicting situation with such union or group of workers.

2. However, the main point to note is that the employer or his HR officials, in future should work in such a way, that there may not be any scope of similar situation in future. The better is to follow all applicable labour laws and give workers / employees their due benefits under laws as applicable. I hope that while working in the peaceful environment, the unit/establishment will grow in its size and productivity resulting into betterment of employer as well as workers.

From India, Noida
Dear All thanks for your all valued views and inputs. Before my joining of this industry this incident was happened. Now I am squaring this all issue by completing all due compliance with proper manner. I will definitely keep in mind all of you suggestion. Thanks.
From India, Pune
Dear Ajit,
As this was a case of mismanagement by your precedors, the only option that is left in your hands is to diligently face all the department audits and prove them that there has been no lapses. Also keep your doors open for any Union discussion and keep the management in loop.
Had the previous HR taken an active interest in the IR on the shop floor and amended the ways, the stituation could have been different.
Coming to the point of Harrassment by the Union, there is really very little that we can do once a complaint has already been registered. The only way out to not let this happen, is a blow hot blow cold method and a open dialogue with the Union leaders.
Ashutosh Thakre

From India, Mumbai

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