A P P R O A C H E S T O L A B O U R O. MOHANASUNDARAM* R E L A T...
A P P R O A C H E S T O L A B O U R
O. MOHANASUNDARAM*
R E L A T I O N S H I P I N I N D U S T R I E S
Today, after experience of almost three stability of labour, security of tenure a n d
score and more years with the working class, adequate wages; and such other benefits
through reputed Social Service Agencies and which the worker is unable to secure for
organised Welfare Departments of Industries himself, such as, decent housing, adequate
in private and public sectors and in the sanitation, efficient medical aid, education
ameliorative services in the villages from and recreation.
where the urban workers are drawn, if I were
The Human Factor: No machine of steel
to be asked to state two factors t h a t can or brass however well constructed will work
change the life and outlook of the working satisfactorily unless it is kept clean and
class for the better, I would unhesitatingly lubricated and is run under suitable condi-
say that adequate housing facilities round tions. The human machine which is made of
about the industries, and proper machinery flesh, blood and bones has a far more compli-
for dealing with the grievances of workers cated mechanism, is very sensitive to its
from within the industries, will surely lay the environments and needs more care and atten-
foundation for a happy, healthy and harmoni-
tion. T h e days of treating workers as labour
ous industrial relationship. These fit in well to be hired and fired at will are fast disappear-
in the socialistic pattern of planning ing. The workman should not be considered
nationalised industries of the people, for the as a labourer hired for 9 hours a day, told to
people and by the people, in the free Welfare sit in a certain place and move his hands and
State of India.
arms according to carefully planned instruc-
Importance of Housing : For health and tions. We cannot consider the workmen as
happy family life housing is the most import-
automatic machines into which we put in one
ant thing in the crowded cities wherein rupee and pull out a rupee-worth of labour.
industries have sprung up indiscriminately. It is being realised that the workman is after
Decent tenements provide adequate space, all a human being, not an isolated individual
air, light, water, privacy, sanitation, healthy but closely linked up to his family, neighbour-
neighbourhood and community life, while on hood, community and class; with all his
the other hand, most of the workers are faults and failings, feelings and fancies, hopes
condemned to life in slums and single-room and dreams, ambitions and aspirations,
tenements which breed plague, pestilence vice hoping, planning and what is more important
and crime.
from the point of view of t h e employers,
Scope of Industrial Welfare: Industrial
grousing and conspiring. When we want good
Welfare is not merely providing a few ameni-
work done with a will, the h u m a n element
ties but a serious attempt to deal with the will remain the key to the situation. Conten-
internal working conditions, workers'
ded workers should m a k e for efficiency and
greater turn over. If the h u m a n element is
grievances, promotion of industrial harmony,
*Mr. Mohanasundaram was till recently Labour Welfare Officer in Madras State
Transport Department, Madras.

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O. M O H A N A S U N D A R A M
not recognised, any scheme of Welfare Work demarcated between the three. The Depart-
will run on the rocks, for the most dangerous ment of Labour Welfare as an important
of rocks is frustrated h u m a n nature. 'Welfare-
adjunct of the administrative machinery,
minded' Management will always feel it should be recognised as the common link of
worthwhile to spend money for real and co-operation to deal with all labour matters
abiding enrichment of the lives of the workers and to make all approaches complementary
and building harmonious relationship between to each other in the common interest of
themselves and labour. It should be realised serving the working class. These are clearly
that in addition to the fine buildings, splendid envisaged in the Welfare Officers' Rules which
canteens, magnificent playgrounds and repre-
directs that a Welfare Officer shall be treated
sentative teams, generous benevolence for on a par with other Heads of Departments,
sickness, holidays and pensions, the spirit of shall be provided with adequate assistance in
h u m a n understanding and recognition of relation to the staff strength, to carry out
h u m a n values and sympathetic service should duties of establishing contacts and holding
pervade the entire administrative machinery consultations with a view to maintaining
of industries. T h e whole edifice of the indus-
harmonious relationship between the manage-
trial organisation rests on confidence between ment and the workers, to maintain liaison
the work people and the supervisory staff. regarding grievances and complaints, to advise
Instead of emphasising authority, the workers managements on obligations statutory or
should be made to feel their responsibilities. otherwise, to promote productivity, to advise
There must be a feeling that everyone is work-
on amenities and welfare measures, to
ing happily together for the concern as well organise Work Committees and see that they
as for himself. T h e workmen should be made function along right lines and in short, to be
to realise that the management is keenly a consultant in all matters pertaining to
interested in everyone's problems and willing labour. To the extent, the management gives
to assist wherever possible; that favouritism effect to the above statutory obligations, in
and corruption of every sort will be letter and spirit, to that extent the given
rigorously discouraged and suppressed; that tasks will be fulfilled. But by by-passing and
everyone can always rely on a fair hearing short-circuiting the stipulated procedure and
for any grievance and is allowed and encour-
of the Golden Rules of Administration
aged to live his life to the best of his ability "Through the Proper Channel" and by
and according to his own talents.
denying facilities for the administrative and
executive functioning of the Welfare Officers,
Channels of Communications: T h e three it will lead only to chaos and confusion and
avenues of communication between the to unfair labour practices and consequences
management and the work people are thereof.
(1) through t h e administrative channel of
L a b o u r Welfare (2) through the democratic
The Administrative Approach: T h e most
forum of the Works Committee and like important "Safety Value" would be the
institutions; and (3) through the methods of functioning without fear or favour, of a
collective bargaining by the Labour Unions. machinery to deal with individual grievances.
T h e three channels should be m a d e to func-
T h e Welfare Branch should be recognised as
tion without any hindrance or obstruction the channel for routing all individual grie-
and there should be free flow of traffic, both vances. Repeated representations from
ways. There need not be any rivalry or different individuals will focus the attention
competition, as the subjects could be clearly of the Administration on a common trouble-

A P P R O A C H E S TO LABOUR R E L A T I O N S H I P IN I N D U S T R I E S
89
spot. It will bring to light any administrative bargaining. It should be made clear that
shortcomings which could be rectified. It may there is plenty of room for many groups and
even expose any public scandal brewing that institutions to work for the welfare of the
may affect the workers. If for any reason this workers and each is complementary to the
procedure is fought shy of or torpedoed and other. T r a d e Unions should not try to use
the grievances are referred to the very sections the Works Committees just as another plat-
that have given birth to them, it can be clear form for their Union activities. In fact, they
that the underground is having the upper-
will do well to train their second line of
hand and have cleaverly prepared the leadership through Works Committees so
ground for malpractices. A good number of that they learn the art of expression, co-
petty mistakes or incombatability could be operation and team work. As a means of
adjusted at the lower levels. If individual expressing the views of the work people, the
grievances are redressed at the proper levels scheme works admirably. Representatives
without much ado, they will not develop into realising that they are acting with full
group grievances which later may give a recognition of the management, perform their
handle for professional agitators. In this duties in the knowledge that their relation-
connection, it may be mentioned that a ship with the concern will not be affected
machinery for the redressal of individual while acting in good faith. Consequently,
grievances was suggested in a proposal by the there is no hesitation in bringing forward
Commissioners of Labour but had not been grievances which have reasonable foundations-
followed up to the stage of implementation. It is certain that the existence of Works
This in fact, provides the key to face and Committee influences the improvement in
tackle the labour problems. T h e statutory working conditions and amenities. Participa-
obligations should be scrupulously followed tion in Welfare Schemes will afford ample
by State enterprises as a model for private scope and a wide field for improving
employers.
relationship.
The Democratic Approaches : T h e Works
Other avenues of democratic training
Committee is a co-operative attempt by the offers itself through the Organisation of
management and work people to come to-
Recreation Clubs, co-operative ventures,
gether to share their problems and to endea-
Safety Committees, Production Committees,
vour to solve them. It provides a unique etc., set up with definite purposes and
channel of communication between the governed by written constitutions. To the
management and the workers and to promote extent they are guided along proper lines,
interest, understanding and co-operation for they will succeed. Proved cases of
mutual benefit. T h e object should be to delinquency should be dealt with in a
organise unity of interest and then to diminish deterrant manner and it will be misplaced
the area of conflict and bring out the advan-
sympathy if such individuals are let off
tages of harmonious human relationship. T h e lightly. Democracy should be made safe
sincerity of purpose and the tone of sympa-
from the invasion of such individuals who
thetic understanding can create an atmos-
invariably organise themselves into strong
phere of mutual confidence and co-operation. groups to launch their rackets in pastures
T h e Works Committee should not attempt to anew. It is the primary duty and
traverse on the administrative functions of responsibility of the management to blacklist
the management or to encroach on the the proved delinquents. T h e institutions
functions of the T r a d e Unions for collective should be controlled to see that rules are

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O. M O H A N A S U N D A R A M
followed, the democratic procedure for and trampling upon the democratic voice,
sanction and utilisation are not short-
the agitators are given a long handle.
circuited and that records are maintained
As an eminent Statesman who had served
a n d preserved.
the nation in various capacities as a labour
The Agitational Approach : T h e Labour leader, Ambassador, Minister, Governor and
Unions invariably adopt an aggressive as administrator, the president of the Indian
agitational approach to magnify grievances Union has said, it is the most difficult task
and to put up unreasonable demands to win to be an administrator, for, one has to give
the workers. They work up the emotions of full scope for the proper functioning of the
the workers and lead them to strife and men working under him in their respective
strike. Whatever justifications m a y be for spheres but take the full responsibility for all
such attitude in private industries, it is out actions; it is a delightful role to play the role
of place in nationalised public utility of a smiling Ambassador; but it is the
concerns. If the administrative and demo-
cheapest and easiest role to play the agitator,
cratic approaches are properly tuned up to to create trouble for other people, to solve
tackle the labour problems, there will not and to play a negative role in the game of
be m u c h fuel for the fury of the agitators. finding fault with anything and everything;
By by-passing the administrative approach and be on the top of the waves all the time.