When they selected me as a “Management Trainee” through campus, they told me that I would handle recruitment and training. They used to hire diploma engineers from campus working in assembly department. These trainee engineers would actually work on machine and doing assembly jobs. That was a big task. Mass recruitment, walk-in was common.
When I joined the company, I saw a clear conflict between management and workmen. Most of the workmen were members of dominated left outfit. After joining of 15 days, the conflict went terribly wrong and union started agitations. They started exhibiting their militant behavior and forced workmen to stop the work. The Personnel Manager sent the letter to Directors (who were located at Mumbai) that he was unable to attend the office due to the threat of workmen. We, (trainees) were asked to seat at home. Union office bearers “Gheraoed” the Works Manager one day. They cut the telephone wires from his table. When I came in the plant, I came to know the incident. We all were out side the plant. There were very less chances to break the deadlock. The other team members who were actually responsible for Industrial Relations were just discussing what to do. They were not allowed to go inside the plant by union members.
By evening, I decided to do something. I thought, anyway the situation is worst. Anyhow, I had to find another job in different company, but that was a time to act and take some risk. The working telephone was at the security gate only. Workmen were settling around away from the security gate. I managed to go inside and reach in the cabin of Works Manager. He was on the verge of being fainted. I went towards the senior union office bearer and shouted, “There is a call at security gate from Directors from Mumbai for Mr. Narke (Works Manager) and he told me to request you people to allow him to speak with him to resolve the issue. From his language, it seems that he wants to break the deadlock, hence please allow him at least to understand the views of Director.” My “confident voice” might have some impact and they somehow allowed to the Works Manager to go out from the cabin. As he stood, I whispered in his ear outside the cabin, “Sir, there is no any such call, better let’s run over the fence and disappeared from the venue.”
We both did the same thing and ran from the “venue”. We stop the taxi and disappeared from the spot. The went his home and sent the fax to directors at Mumbai that he was also not in a position to attend the office as there was a threat to his life. Next day, company declared the “lock out”.
After 2-3 months, some-how conflicts started to resolve. The union office bearers were suspended. Workmen were convinced to form the internal union and normalcy was restored.
Works Manager was so happy with me that he confirmed me within 6 months. Apart from recruitment and training, the responsibility of Industrial Relations was also given to me.
When I look back, I surprise the risk which I took that time. There were 50-50 chances of wining. Perhaps, they could beat me if they would have suspected that I was just saving the Works Manager. But it was calculated risk. I decided to act in evening where the energy of union members and workmen was low. Though all workmen were with union, I knew that there were internal issues and most of the workmen wanted normalcy. I was not responsible for Industrial Relations, but I was worried about the Works Manager on humanity ground. I just acted.
After that I took lot of risks in my personal and professional life, but all were weighted and calculated….