Case Study on Industrial Relations - Part 1

Case No.1:   In Jay Engineering Works after a three months strike the work had resumed. However on the very first day of resumption of work there was a problem on account of shortage of snacks in the first shift which resulted in a tool down. In the first shift on the day of resumption of work, Samosas were served as snacks for breakfast. The normal rule was that each workman should take only two pieces of snacks. However as the Samosas were tasty, the workmen started consuming more than two Samosas which resulted in shortage of Samosas. Ashok, a workman who was a very reasonable person and who was considered as very close to the management, had come late to the canteen. When he found that the Samosas were not available, he raised a hue and cry and demanded from the Canteen Officer that Samosas should be served to him and that he would not accept any other snacks except Samosas. The Canteen Officer expressed his inability to serve Samosas and instead offered to serve biscuits. Ashok declined to accept the same and once again insisted that he should be served Samosas. When the canteen Officer told Ashok that it was not possible for him to serve Samosas, Ashok got upset and took his grievance to the Union Committee members. The Union Committee members felt that this was an opportunity for them to win over Ashok to their side. They, therefore took up the cause of Ashok with the Canteen Officer. They threatened the canteen Officer that they resort to a tool down if the grievance of Ashok was not resolved. The Canteen Officer expressed his inability to serve Samosas to Ashok, but offered to serve biscuits instead. Not satisfied with the solution given by the Canteen Officer, the Union Committee members gave a call for a tool down. The activities of Jay Engineering works came to a grinding halt.

As a Personnel Manager of this Company how would you handle this case?

CASE No. 2:  A Multinational Company specialised in food processing has been  operating in India for about 3 decades.  The Company has recently decided to expand its production. It was decided to shift the factory  to a new location about 20 kms. away from its present site. As the workers transferred to the new site were living in town, the union demanded an increase of Rs. 60/- per month in the salary, but the Company offered to give Rs. 25/- only to cover the transport cost.

When the plant was being shifted to the new site, negotiations went on uninterrupted between the Management and the Union on this issue. However both the parties could not come to a settlement even after 6 months.

The Management was firm on their decision even though the union indicated some flexibility. The Union refused to compromise fully on the issue. They adopted go-slow tactics to pressurize the Management. The production went down drastically, but still the Management was firm on their stand. In the meanwhile the Management charge-sheeted some of the Trade Union leaders and suspended them pending enquiry.

Questions : 

a)   Analyse the case given above and elucidate the problem and causes.
b)   Do you justify the Management’s decision ? If Yes/No- why ?
c)   Are the workers right in their approach ?  Comment.
d)   As  a General Manager – HR  of this Company how would you resolve the
      problem ?                                   

CASE No. 3:    The main business of Damodar Electric Supply Corporation is to supply electric energy to the entire district. The Corporation has a work for, Mazdoors etc. General Manager is the Chief Executive, having full authority on all matters of administration. During the last two years, the Corporation has come into financial problems due to economic recession. As such, to bring control on the expenses the General Manager, has issued an unconditional order forbidding supervisory foremen to authorise over-time work under any circumstances.

One day, a cable-laying workman was working inside a wet manhole, in the marshy area near a river. About an hour before closing time he realised that he could not finish the job within the regular working hours. He estimated, that the work would be over within four hours more. The foreman having no authority to grant over-time telephoned the Section Officer at the Head Office. Section Officer, unwilling to breach the rule, contacted the Superintendent who in turn asked the Section Officer, to use his discretion. Section Officer conveyed the same message to the foreman. The Foreman, however, was still afraid of the consequences of over-time order. He therefore told the cable lay-man to wrap the cable securely and leave the work, to be finished the next day.

During the night, the river went on flood. Water entered the man-hole by the river-side and the ‘cabling’ was damaged. The damage to the cable was corrected after many days, involving a great expenditure.

1.                  Was the Corporation’s over-time policy wrong?
2.                  Does the ‘Management-by-rule’ restrict the initiative of the staff and suppress innovativeness?
3.                  Under such rules, can there be a sense of achievement and job satisfaction for  the subordinates?
4.                  Do you feel ‘No Rules Situation’ can be advisable for a company?
5.                  Recommend an over-time Policy to the Damodar Electric Supply Corporation.

Some more case studies:

A)   In a company employing 200 workmen there is a stalemate in the negotiations between the Management and the Union. The Union has asked the workmen to resort to a slow down to pressurise the management to concede their demands. The slowdown is to the extent of 50 to 60 %. You are the Personnel Manager of this Company. The Managing Director of this Company has asked you to take drastic action to curb the slow down tactics of the Workmen. Explain as to how you would handle the situation.

B)   A workman has joined a factory on 1st May 2007. He is on the rolls of the Factory till 31st December 2007. During this period of 8 months, he has worked for 128 days. Will this workman get leave with wages under the Factories Act, 1948? If so,  for how many days and why? If not, why?

C)   You are the Personnel manager of XYZ Company. On 3rd May, 2008 at about 19.30 hours you receive a phone call from the Shift –in-charge that a fatal accident has taken place on account of which 2 workers have died on the spot. There is a lot of commotion inside the factory. He has asked you to advise him as to what is to be done in order .to comply with the provisions of the Factories Act, 1948. Advise the Shift-in-charge accordingly.

D)   Ramesh, a workman of Usha Electronics has been a chronic absentee. His past record is extremely poor. He has remained absent continuously for 20 days from 1st April to 24th April 2008. Draft a Charge-sheet-cum-notice of enquiry scheduling a Domestic enquiry on 5th May 2008 at 11.00 hours in the Personnel Department of the Company

E)   In a Company employing 300 workmen, the wages have not been paid on the seventh of the month on account of financial crunch. Some five workmen of this Company have filed a complaint with the Authority under the Payment of Wages Act, 19936. The Director of the Company has received  a summons from the Authority under the Payment of Wages Act, 1936. 

The Director of the Company has passed on the summons to you and asked for your comments on the same. The Director of the Company wants to know as to what is his liability under the Payment of  Wages Act, 1936.

F)   The wages of employees of XYZ Company is being paid by cash every month. The Director of the Company now wants the wages to be paid by cheque instead of cash. You are the Personnel Manager of this Company. The Director wants to know from you as to how the change is to be brought about.