People Matters, 2nd Aug 2012
I share the pain and agony of the Maruti workforce, the management, family members of people who are hurt and the relatives of Awanish who face an irretrievable loss. But, I am not writing another obituary or a condolence message. I do not believe this to be a case of worker –management relationship failure and the blame does not lie with any one party. We all know that the barbaric act was wrong and perpetrators need to be punished, so it is pointless to say more on that.
I am sure I echo the feelings of many in the HR community when I say that I felt helpless on first hearing about the incident. However, I saw a ray of hope when HR professionals through National HRD Network and other bodies came together to draft a code to propagate non-violence in the workplace. A workplace violence policy will ensure a framework of operation and help create an organizational culture that prevents the occurrence of violence in the workplace. The code places the importance of life, safety and security above all else and makes peace and harmony its ultimate goal. As trustees of HR, we now need to proactively work to stop any kind of violence in the workplace and punish non-adherence.
Strife and conflict have traditionally defined the worker-management relationship, but the last century has seen a growing maturity in industrial relations, with introduction of labor laws and trade unions. Change is inevitable, however, and we are in the midst of shifts in the economic environment, power structures and market forces. Along with this, there has been an acknowledged decline in the importance of industrial relations as an area of practice within the HR community, which is unfortunate. The challenge for us HR professionals of the 21st century, thus lies in aligning all stakeholders – management, workers, trade union leaders, the political system and governance machinery to find a middle path to wealth creation, which leads to a more equitable and humane society. Apart from propagating a non-violence policy for the workplace, companies must establish strong working relationships between the management, unions and community-based organizations to address such issues. I am optimistic that we will build a workplace where violence will not be an option. We will win over violence – immediately perhaps not, but definitely!