Capital Glow & Blues - 5
I usually return home between 7 pm and 8pm in the evening. On quite a few occasions, I met Mr. Srivastava on the way back, who usually gives me a lift in his car. We have a small conversation on such meetings. Mr. Srivastava is my neighbor, and works as an executive in M Auto at their Manesar plant.
The M Auto Plant in Gurgaon was in the news lately for all the wrong reasons. On one occasion, I asked Mr. Srivastava “So what really happened on that fateful day? How is the situation at work nowadays?”
“The agitating workers beat up an Executive badly after he had shouted at one of them. These workers, who had been on strike for quite some time, seeking regularization and better wages really went wild on that day, and even thrashed a Japanese executive badly. As a consequence, the Management had shut down the plant.”
“Quite a few arrests have been made and the suspects have been put behind bars. Things are gradually returning to normal, but the plant hasn’t re-opened as yet. A lot of the local political bigwigs are trying to help find a solution, and request the Management to re-start their operations in Gurgaon. The Manesar plant is fully functional though.”
A couple of months had passed since that meeting. The M Plant wasn’t much in the news during the period. One evening, I was returning home in a cab. The driver said “Sir, I will put you in a different cab tomorrow. I have to go to the funeral of one of my relatives who passed away today.”
In a chatty mood, I began asking him the details, and he had this to say “My sister’s mother-in-law has passed away. She died due to a shock. Her son has been in jail for the past two months, and she loved him dearly. She couldn’t bear the injustice that has befallen on her son.”
I asked “why do you call this an injustice?”
“Jija-ji (Brother-in-law) has been working in M Plant for the past five years. When he was offered the job, he was on a probationary period of three years. After that, the employers had promised that they would regularize his services. But they went back on their words. There are many others like my Jija-ji. They are made to work for meager salaries, without any service benefits. Even the strike which they resorted to was quite peaceful, till a particular Executive behaved very badly on a particular day, and all latent anger of the workers came to the fore, and hell broke loose. I went in search of Jija-ji that evening. Police had already taken him. I sighted a young Japanese Executive who was badly beaten up lying there, and it was truly frightening.”
When I reached home that day, I felt bad for the violence and loss of lives that had taken place in the aftermath of the incident, and wondered whether the power of dialogue between stakeholders couldn’t have avoided such things happening at workplaces.