Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Thursday, October 16, 2008
Retrench: (Sec 2(oo) Industrial Disputes Act 1947) "retrenchment" means the termination by the employer of the service of a workman for any reason whatsoever, otherwise than as a punishment inflicted by way of disciplinary action, but does not include - (a) voluntary retirement of the workman; or
(b) retirement of the workman on reaching the age of superannuating if the contract of employment between the employer and the workman concerned contains a stipulation in that behalf; or
(bb) termination of the service of the workman as a result of the non-removal of the contract of employment between the employer and the workman concerned on its expiry or of such contract being terminated under a stipulation in that behalf contained therein; or
(c) termination of the service of a workman on the ground of continued ill-health;
Today the airlines industry are unable to give employment to the workmen due to shortage of passengers, who are the one of the raw materials for the aviation/services industry. But they have not laid off their workers. They have retrenched them.
Till a few months back, employees never had it so good. They could jump ship at the slightest provocation, sometimes for as much as a INR 2000/- ($41) increase in salary. HR managers at high attrition companies worried their hair out, about whether they critical resource walking out of the door every evening would be back the next day. The Gen-X did not know what it was to be without a job.
The bad news is out. Jet laid off close to 850 people and are planning to lay-off more. AI has announced that 1500 people will be asked to go on leave without pay for 3-5 years. While laying off people is not illegal, nor is it a subject matter of political debate, there are ways of doing this without unnecessary heart ache. Nor is it true, that the PYT who just jumped abroad from Kingfisher without waiting to complete her due notice period just because the going was good, has got what she deserved. Here we are talking about lives. Young lives who for better or worse have no other training. They followed their dreams and their dreams led them to this.
Very soon we might see the same thing repeated across IT/ITES sector, given the fact that Obama is leading in the popularity poll. The BPO worker is specially vulnerable. They hardly have any other training or experience to do any other work. At that juncture is it proper to ask the Government to bail out the sick companies? Even if the Govt. pumps in cash into the ailing companies, how long will the company survive on crutches? But then, we are used to giving crutches to all and sundry instead of trying to involve them in the mainstream. Now the question is how do we cope in these times? Increase spending? Increase the Gross National Debt? That is just pushing today's problem to tomorrow. Anyway here I am dergressing from the topic.
CITU and MNS are waiting in the wing to jump into the fray to be seen as the saviour of the poor. They are asking for a bail out of the aviation industry. If the government bails out the aviation industry today, is it prepared to bail out the IT/ITES industry tomorrow? There are dharnas and morchas asking Jet to take back the employees. Is it fair to ask the industry to keep excess workers on roll while they are bleeding? Have we forgotten the Bombay Mills so soon? Aren't we ever going to learn from history? I don't have the answer. I don't know who has the answer. But I have a question for Mr. Naresh Goyal.
Mr. Goyal, you knew your company was bleeding. You knew that you might go in for a code sharing agreement with Kingfisher. You knew that when the going got tough, you would have to let go a significant number of your people. You are a businessman and not a social activist. I respect all that. But Sir, would you please stand up, look at those young faces you axed, look them in the eye and tell them that you did this to save the company? Could you cross your heart and do that? I have only one problem with this retrenchment. Why have you done this in such a shady manner? You could have gone ahead and fired everyone, no one would have said a thing. It is your company after all. But why in a way that makes it appear so shady, so cheap? And when you did this where was your HR manager Mr. Goyal?
To the HR manager of Jet Airways, You are a scum and people like you bring the entire profession of HR into disrepute. You know your numbers. You know which way the wind is blowing. You know who you need to retain and who to let go. And you know the law. More importantly you know your employees. You have been trained in soft skills. If you don't you don't deserve to call yourself a HR manager. You deserve to bloody shoot yourself. Where was your training when you needed it? If you had to go ahead and nuke people, you din't need your degree in HR. Do you Mr. HR Manager of Jet Airways, suppose that though this retrenchment is legally justified, it is morally justified? What were you thinking when you pulled off the cowardly act and sent retrenchment letters to the employees by courier? Remember Mr. HR Manager of Jet Airways, you wouldn't have lost a fortune if you had spent some more time on framing your plan of action before shooting off those letters.
To all industry leaders and head honchos out there. You might have to lay off people, you might have to retrench them; I don't say Don't do it, rather I say, GO Ahead!! Do It now. But do it in a humane way.
This is my request to all you HR managers and CEOs out there, when you retrench or lay people off do it, but follow these guidelines:
1) Retrenchment as a last resort: Sometimes, it is a better solution to propose a across the board pay cut to save jobs than to retrench multitudes. First cut off the fancy office, give up the company car, stop those small expenses everyday. Send a message to the workers that you are serious about cost cutting
2) Lead from the front: Not in the Shady way that Jet has done it. Look at the employees in the face. Tell them that we are facing a problem. We need to let people go. And tell them they will be welcome back when things improve. Then lay-off, retrench people fast. Within a few hours of making your announcement. Don't let people find out when they are ready to go to work and the cab doesn't turn up
3) Provide support: What prevents you from providing support to the retreched employees to obtain another employment? They deserve it from you
4) Don't hide behind closed doors: Walk around. Be available to the employees. They have doubts. They have questions. They are shocked. Now is not the time to retire to your castle. Be with them
5) Once and for all: Don't retrench 50 people today, then another 100 tomorrow and so on. This creates tremendous insecurity among people who survive. Once you are done with removing your excess employees, assure the rest that you are not going to fire them. They will be forming your core group on which you will build your future.
Well, one long post. But then this is the time when we all do a reality check. And ensure that we are ready to go back to school and pick up more skills that would be valuable in this market.
Thursday, October 09, 2008
Well, anyways, even though this year I did not celebrate Pujo the way it is supposed to be, the last day always leaves you a bit gloomy, a bit nostalgic. It is almost like having to get on with the dullness of life. But then you know, that "Aasche bochor aabar hobe". And aasche bochor hopefully it will be a different celebration than this.
Wishing you all the warmest greetings for Dussehra. Subho Bijoya....aasche bochor mongolmoye hok
Picture courtesy this wonderful site that has enabled millions of Probashi Bangalee to keep in touch with Pujo.
Wednesday, October 08, 2008
The Captain who forged the Indian Team, who popularized the huddle and for whose backing we discovered the gems who are a part of the team today, Saurav Ganguly has announced his retirement.
There have been finger pointing at the fab four, there have been media spats, ugly politics that have taken place behind the scenes, but the fact remains, if any of the fab four have always got the short stick and has always managed to bounce back he is the man. And today as he decides to walk into the sunset, it will not be an easy walk. He will not be under pressure to perform, but yes he will be under pressure. To cap off a brilliant career with a flourish. The last hunt. The final bugle call. It will not be easy to walk off. But then it will be the brilliant end of an era if he does let his bat do the talking once again.
What was his contribution to Indian cricket? He forged a team. A team who dint win by chance. But a team who won because they believed they could. A team who did not snatch defeat from the jaws of victory but who even if they lost went down fighting. This team reflected what the new India was all about. It was the resurgent India that faced the world.
And if sometime soon we eventually win the World Cup, and not the 20-twenty version, we would have one person to thank for that.
Goodbye Prince, we shall miss you.
Tuesday, October 07, 2008
Well, RNT has decided to pull out of Singur. Momota Banerjee is celebrating Durga Pujo at Kalighat and has proclaimed that she will start an agitation after the Pujo to return the land to the farmers. Nice thought. But Ms. Banerjee or her advisors, in their infinite wisdom, haven't given a thought on the state of the land. Agriculture flourishes on land which is fertile. Not land which has been levelled and graded. Dug up and concrete poured into it. The Singur area was a marsh land, so quantities of fly ash have been dumped on it to make it fit for construction. Have these intellectually superior people given a thought on how are those unwilling land losers going to start farming again?
My guess is, as part of her election ploy, now that she knows she has rocked her best boat for an election victory, she would ask the Tata's and the the govt to return the land in the condition that it was taken. Meaning, that all the clean up operation etc would have to be done. She has to try this plank now for her election. And public memory being as short as it is, Momota didi will be the Messiah for those whose land was forcefully acquired and then forcefully returned.
Land acquisition has another dimension. How will you return the land of those people who willingly parted with their land? They got their compensation cheques, which they encashed and spent the money. Will they again have to forcefully buy back their land? Or will they see their land going to someone else. If the latter, then it is nothing but a ploy by the Tirnamul to grab land. Good land. And vast areas of it. Which they will later deem to be unfit for agriculture and sell at a much higher rate for industrialization. Do I smell a rat somewhere? Or is it only me who thinks that this is a ploy?
As for the buy back policy, how will a poor farmer who suddenly got a windfall amount and spent it on a new house, a daughters marriage or a new bike, gather that amount required for him to get his land back? And if the Tirnamul pressurizes the government to give the land back gratis, it is the tax payer's money which is being used. Why should you and I pay for a folly that is entirely Momotadidi's? Will the govt. have the guts to bill the Tirnamul Congress and Momotadidi for the land and then return it? Or even better, ask Momota didi to come up with the money and then transfer the land to her. She can then return it or keep it as she chooses. If she is such a champion of the poor she would return it gratis. The same way she expects the govt. to do so now, difference it would be her money, not yours or mine.
And for the people of Singur, and West Bengal, when was the last time any politician did anything that was good for the people?