Dinesh Divekar
Business Mentor, Consultant And Trainer
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Nagarkar Vinayak L
Hr And Employee Relations Consultant
Dmc123
Associate Director Legal

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Anonymous
Dear Leaders, Please guide us in a genuine way how to handle below situation.

We are a manufacturing organization in Maharashtra. Our plant is in a rural area Zone III. As there was lockdown Pan India many of workers, supervisors went to their native. From 31st May as partial manufacturing started with 30% employees we mailed our employees to resume to work from 15 june.

There were few employees who gave a timeline to come to the office and was in continuous touch with us and we have paid the salary they resumed duty by July mid as per feasibility location-wise transportation.

But there are 12-15 employees who yet have not resumed to work. They were not responding mails, messages & calls of HR, HOD. We put their salary on hold.

But today one local union ( Name confidential) visited our office stating that they have approached them to form union and have put allegation on the employer for termination.

Though I have shown all call logs, messages, and mails to the Union body that they are not reporting to work still local body putting pressure that we have to form a union as they are active employees in our organization and they can form a union. Also, they are mentioning that they are a convincing internal employees to sign union form.

Please guide how to handle this.

I have all the proof to submit that employee did not come to work so we have to hire someone in their place and send them termination letter ( As per term in appointment letter) as company needs to run, company can not stop. Company waited till July for them. Termination letter alonh with settlement is not accepted by them.

We are MSME with 225 staff. Employee are supervisor category.

From India, Mumbai
Dear member,

I understand the situation you are in. Dealing with hostile labour unions is no easy task.

On the one hand, the union government is interested in promoting "ease of doing business" and on the other side, the factory owners face this kind of situation.

Nevertheless, the city of Mumbai is not new labour union militancy. Today's unions are carrying the legacy of Datta Samant. Because of this misplaced aggressiveness by the labour unions, a lot of factories were either closed or moved to other states. The state of Maharashtra has paid a heavy price for the parochialism by the labour unions. 

Each labour union is affiliated with some political party. The labour unions cannot muster the courage without patronage by a political party. Therefore, explore the possibility of taking the labour union into confidence. In the meanwhile, as a temporary measure, try filling the vacancies through contract labours.

Keep the absent workers on your roll. Stop contacting them. However, when they return, you may take them on the roll but remove them one by one through some other reason and not the reason for their absence.

I have offered you the solution from my side. Other senior members may provide their valuable inputs.

Thanks,

Dinesh Divekar

From India, Bangalore
Dear friend,

In these difficult times we have to sail thru' tactfully. Managing with contract labour might pose some other problems of permanency as the work is a continuing nature. At the same time without separating the employees who have not reported yet but existing on roll has to be decided. Lest, imagine if all are reporting and you still have contract labour and hence land up in surplus labour. Who knows the contract labour also form a union and backed by some active party might agitate for permanency. I suggest issue a final notice by registered notice with Ack.due giving only one week time to report. Whoever reporting can be taken to duty treating them "absence with LWP' after obtaining due letters of request. Failing which go for termination, fill the vacancies by contract labour. Also keep the ALC updated on every step you are taking. Don't encourage 'idle wages' for those not reporting. If you would yield to pressure and allow them carry on like this, it would affect the morale of the employees already reported & on regular duty. Coming to worst you also can consider declaring 'lockout' if they resort to agitations.

From India, Bangalore
Anonymous
Dear Leaders,
Thank you for your valuable guidance. Yes will do same way.
Yes we stopped their salary because workers who are working they all raised flag together against ,we paying salary employee sitting home.
Badly stuck in situation.

From India, Mumbai
Dear colleague,

You have to take call on whether to confront the union formation process or to deal with it as and when it is formed

Remember that formation of the union is their fundamental right . However , you can stall it by winning the workmen who have reported for work/are working to your side and persuading them not join the union. If you succeed, if at all union gets formed it will be minority union which cannot influence as against majority union.

As regards those whom you have sent termination letters which are returned unaccepted, keep it pending for possible solution .But don't recruit anybody at this stage in their place.

The union formation may succeed or not needs to be watched and in this transitory phase it is better to wait and watch for things to turn favourable.

In the meantime, keep consulting some local competent labour advocate or consultant to contain any escalation.

Regards,

Vinayak Nagarkar
HR and Employee Relations Consultant

From India, Mumbai
Dear friend,
Check your SO and accordingly issue notices to all absenting. If the notices are returned as 'undelivered or refused or addressee not found remarks publish advt.in local news papers quoting their names & warning them to report to duty immediately failing which they will be treated as absconders etc. This group may resort to Dharna or gate meeting. Which is banned under Covid-SOP. If they do so, lodge police complaint noting their names. There is no possibility of raising 'Industrial dispute' or 'strike notice' as what they do is illegal. Tackle them individually by initiating disciplinary action for absenteeism.

From India, Bangalore
Dear HR leader,
We have faced this issue with many of our clients. We advised them to initiate disciplinary action against the absentee workers. Accordingly enquiries were conducted. You cannot send the message to other workers that high handed attitude of the union threats will be tolerated and the management bows down to pressure. If they get violent you should take help of Police authorities to maintain law and order. Union will have to realise that arm twisting tactics dont help in IR situations, otherwise they will use this as a tool to get their demands met.

From India, Pune
I endorse the view to go for a Disciplinary action. Issuing Charge sheet quoting the relevant Misconduct under the Certified Standing Orders, if the establishment has one and if not, quote the clauses relating to unauthorised continuous absence for more than 10 days in the Model Standing Orders. Send the Letter through RPAD/ e-mail/ Whatsapp. If he sees you can see double blue tick, take a Colour Photocopy and keep it safe. If no reply is received within 3 days, please issue a Reminder Notice, if no reply is received or if a reply is received send an Enquiry Notice. Better to Conduct outside thwe establishment. Enquiry Officer can be an internal or external gentleman. Permit for a co-worker to play the role of assistant to DELINQUENT. Conduct transparent Enquiry adhering to Principles of Natural Justice like aadi altem paltem. If he absents for Enquiry, record the proceedings and send copy through RPAD/e-mail/whatsapp, every time, to give three adjournments. Treat him as Exparte, and E O will submit Enquiry Finding Report. Based on the Report ISSUE TERMNATION ORDER. If my memory is correct, in Maharashtra the SECOND SHOW CAUSE NOTICE IS NOT FOLLOWED. You can also conduct Enquiry through ZOOM/ TEAMS if you want to be safe against Covid as well as from external force. K S PASUPATHI
From India, Chennai
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