Synopsis: Communication For Productivity
Letters written to some 7500 Workers / Managers / Union Leaders, following a period of strike / Go slow / Murders (1979 - 1987), at Mumbai factory of Larsen & Toubro Ltd. This direct / open / honest communication led to a remarkable atmosphere of trust between Workers and Management, which, in turn, increased productivity at 3% per year (ave).
12 Nov 1982
S.R. Mohandas does not like the word "Bargaining". According to him it implies, "barring-the-gain" of the opponent and an "adversary" relationship. He prefers to call it "Collective Negotiating" - you negotiate a difficult terrain, jointly, to reach a common goal.
SRM also tells us that in collectively negotiated wage settlements, there is no place for "give and take". It has to be only "take and take". Union "takes" (away !) the wages from the Management and the Management must master the art (or science) of "taking" (extracting) the work from the workmen !
Another wrtie-up (enclosed), which I thought would interest you, is on the wage negotiations currently taking place 15,000 km. away - in the American steel industry. We are far removed from the Scene but the subject is quite relevant.
Is there a common thread running through the two write-ups? I do not think, SRM, anywhere in his article, is preaching the kind of "tough" stand being practiced by the American Steel Industry.' The toughness is in a mess due to many reasons - one of which is high labor-cost as compared to the Japanese.
But then SRM neither precludes tough-methods, if situation so demands. On the other hand we also find that some managers in the American Steel industry believe that a lasting solution to the problems faced by the industry cannot be found in arm-twisting techniques but only in worker participation and involvement in the problem-solving exercises - in other words, in "decision-taking" processes.
The blind-spot is "give and take" - perhaps even "take and take". How do we get across to the employees that we must all "make" before anyone can "take"?