Article: Free market necessitates creation of a new IR

Employee Relations

Free market necessitates creation of a new IR

The growing disparities between regular and contract workers is a major concern, says Rajesh P., CHRO of Vedanta Group
Free market necessitates creation of a new IR

The declining power of trade unions, improving pay packets & education levels and willingness to accommodate growing stature of workers have caused a revolution of perception and aspiration


The idea behind Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Make In India campaign will fuel the need for developing the country’s infrastructure, which will have a cascading effect on the demand for more metals and energy. This is a positive sign for the Indian manufacturing sector and the Vedanta Group, with large operations in India, and diversified interests in sectors like Metals, Mining and Energy, is all set to be a partner in the nation’s growth.

Even though the government seems to be focused towards building the manufacturing sector, there are a few areas where there is a burning need for a concentrated strategy to resolve the prevailing issues.

Skilled workforce is one such crucial challenge that organizations in India face. The Metal and Mining sector, for example, is in a critical need of skilled workforce as the current skill level of the workmen in India is inadequate for functioning in mines, especially underground mines. Even though ITIs in the country focus towards skill development in certain sections of manufacturing industry, the mining set-ups who do not have their in-house skill development facilities face a difficult time managing the manpower for operations.

Diversity in workplace is another area where the government needs to take some concerted steps. The Factories Act restricts the working of women in night shift in many areas, whereas the Mines Act restricts the working of women at all. If we look at the economies of countries such as South Africa and Australia, women are involved in mines in many activities, including operation of heavy equipment (Trucks, Dumpers and even Cranes).

Industrial Relations, which is one more key element for a healthy business environment, has evolved over a period on the basis of the experiences of organizations and labour unions. There is a growing threat of disparities between the regular and contract workers, which is a major concern for industries globally.

Contract workmen form almost 80 per cent of the entire workforce. While there is an apex body working towards the interest of the regular workmen (the Trade Unions), the un-organized sector of contract workmen are left out and are being exploited from all ends. The disparity in wages, inability to bargain (No Collective Bargaining provision), lack of permanency are some of the key reasons of unrest among the contract workmen in the current times. The government needs to understand the immediate need to bring in some labour reforms to help develop a framework that is relevant to today’s business scenario in-order to avoid instances that we have seen in the past such as one at a large plant in NCR.

The declining power of trade unions, improving pay packets, their increased levels of education and the emergence of process industries has changed the very definition of work. This along with the willingness of management to accommodate conflicting growing stature of workers in society have together caused a revolution of perception and aspiration. The eyes of the workers in the organized sector are set on upward mobility both for themselves and their coming generations.

There is one aspect that plays an integral role in building trust between management and labour, which is the flow of information. Trust acts as a catalyst for fostering positive relations.

In this changing environment, the HR managers and other stakeholders who involve directly / indirectly with the workers are required to be equipped and sensitized while dealing with them.

(As told to Ankita Sharma Sukhwani)

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Topics: Employee Relations, #IndustrialRelations

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