Hi Friends,
                                              Even as I launch this today ( my 80th Birthday ), I realize that there is yet so much to say and do.
                                                  There is just no time to look back, no time to wonder,"Will anyone read these pages?"
                                       With regards,
                                       Hemen Parekh
                                       27 June 2013

Sunday, 23 December 1979

COMMU-TIES

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). 

23 Dec 1979

To;

Deputy General Managers (DGMs)

"COMMU-TIES" - Yes
"COMMITTEES" - No

We already have many Committees.

Perhaps too many.

So I would be the last person to suggest one more.

An  anthropologist   discovered  existence   of  'Committees' during the Indus Valley civilization.

While digging at "mohenjo-daro", he  unearthed a room-full of chairs  and  cups of  tea  -  "Come-meet-tea"! (Since then civilization  has made  great strides  in this  art  of doing nothing, by introducing coffee.' - it keeps you awake !)

But then  "Mohenjo-Daro' in B.C.  3,000 had fewer  walls than Powai has in  1979 A.D. - except that  these are 'invisible' I (to frustrate the anthropologist of 4,000 AD'.?)

Non-believers, kindly study Annexure 'A'

That's right.  I meant 'Barriers to communication'.

So  we should have  some more  'commu-ties'  - communication ties.

These,  I call,  'holes-in-the-walls. '  Our  windows  to  the 'worlds'.
The 'worlds' of

-      Managers
-      Officers and Supervisors
-      Technical and Clerical staff
-      Workmen and Union

Under Phase  I (OPERATION commu-ties?)  we have already made a 'beginning with the

             "PRODUCTIVITY COMMU-TIE"
at 4 levels



Under  Phase  II, I  believe we  should  establish a  regular channel of  communication with the  Supervisors and Officers. They are there to implement  Company Policy - even help frame it  (Supervisory  participation  in  Management?).   We,  the managers,  should understand  them  better  - as  a group,  -their    feelings/difficulties/suggestions.     They    must understand   better,  the   managerial  directives  and   the inconsistencies  of  managerial  action  -  whether  real  or apparent.

With the foregoing objective  in mind, I met  17 of  them on 21st   inst.    The  response   was   very  encouraging   and constructive.   I  felt that  a major  source  of energy  has remained untapped in this age of energy-crisis 11
They  would  like  to  meet   us  once  a  fortnight   (at least initially).  Say at 4.30 p.m. (G-4 Conference Room) on

-    4th   January '80
-    17th January '80
-    31st  January '80

We may call this  "INNOVATION COMMU-TIE'.  Whether innovative communication  will  take  place  or  not  will  depend  upon whether you  are present  or not.  Therefore,  I urge  you to remain present and help bring down the walls!

Then someday we will sit down and think about Phase III.


       H.C. PAREKH

Sunday, 16 December 1979

THE NIGHTMARE YEAR

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).

16 Dec 1979

To:

Dear friends

THE NIGHTMARE YEAR
The year 1979 is drawing to a close.
It has been a bad year so far.  What  little is left does not appear all  that cheerful.   The future looks  as bleak  as a Hindi film does around interval!  (except that in the case of a  Hindi film, your  eight-year old  can  predict  'The HAPPY End' rather accurately !)
We  have seen  some  bad years  before.  What  is  so special about 1979?

FIRST:
The Management  and the  Union signed  a 4-year  Agreement in January 1979, that gave  an average wage-rise of over  Rs 200 per month  to the  workmen, resulting  in a  recurring annual expenditure of  Rs 125  lakhs.  Then  there was  the one-time lump sum payment of Rs 90 lakhs.
Now there is  nothing basically  'wrong' in such a  big wage-increase, if  it were  to be neutralised  by a  corresponding improvement  in the  labour-productivity  as incorporated  in the Agreement.  Not only  labour-productivity remained at the same level throughout the year, it went down in some shops !!
This is what makes 1979, a 'bad' year !

SECOND
The labour-cost  further kept on rising  throughout the year. The maximum DA which  was Rs 1145 in January rose  to Rs 1305 in November - a  rise of Rs 160 so far.'  D.A. rise alone has cost the Company around Rs 90 lakhs  during the course of the year.
With  one  more  month  to  go,  1979,  might yet  break  the previous record !!

THIRD:
Most  of the  raw  materials and  components  are  costing us today, between  25% to 50%  more than what  these  cost us 11 months  ago.   Shortages  of raw  materials  caused  loss  of production and termination  of—'Temporaries' .And—this—could happen again and again  !!
Isn't this 'bad' enough?


FOURTH:
A  company needs borrowed  money to  run the  business.  When labour-cost and  materials-cost go up  sharply, we  need more money.   And  the  borrowed  money  itself  has  become  more 'expensive ' because banks increased the rates of interest.
How bad can one get?

FIFTH :
Most of our business is a  'Fixed price' business.  Today, we are executing  orders which  were booked by  us  12/18 months ago at  'firm prices'.  With  all  costs rising  sharply, our 'margins ' are shrinking fast.
This is what makes 1979 a bad year.

SIXTH;
Maharashtra  is going through  one of  the worst  POWER CUTS, ranging from  35% to 55%  (and 100% for 5 days  in May 1979). We have survived  so far, on our own generated  power - which costs us  6 times as  much.  But if  diesel supplies  go down further, (current stock is  just enough for 7 days) the first to be affected would be the Company's transport.
Can we take anything at all for 'granted'?

FINALLY:
1979 began with all outstanding  issues between the Union and the  Management peacefully  settled.  7,000  people  of Powai paid a  heavy price in 1977  and thought that  the worst year in L&T's history had come and gone.
Apparently some people have thought  otherwise and would like to make  1979 THE  WORST  YEAR I The  'Go-slow' agitation  is crowning the nightmare of 1979.
At a time when we should all be unitedly  fighting the 'evil' forces of the ECONOMY, through higher production,  do we have to make matters worse,  by inflicting wounds on ourselves  by resorting to 'Go-slow'?
When  you go  home today,  ask  your eight-year  old what  he thinks 1980 would be like - for us and for our families.

H.C. PAREKH

Monday, 10 December 1979

DO NOT ROCK THE BOAT

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). 

10 Dec 1979

To:

Dear Co-traveller


DO NOT ROCK THE BOAT

POWAI WORKS  is like a  boat.  You are  aware that  this boat has  not been  sailing  smoothly of  late.   Some people  are trying to  drill holes  in it, little  realizing that  if the boat goes down, they  go down too ! - perhaps before  the boat goes down !! What else is 'go-slow' agitation?
Over the years, our boat has sprung a few small  leaks and we should all be busy bailing out water and sealing  these leaks - not drilling holes!!  Future of 7,000 people  (and of their families) is at  stake.  A few persons (whose own  futures do not ride  the boat) are  taking dangerous liberties  with the future of 7,000 workmen.  Can this be allowed?
To agitate peacefully and democratically  for a 'just' cause, is  the birth  right of  the working  class.  No  enlightened Management will deny that, and  L&T Management has repeatedly demonstrated that it is an enlightened Management.
But, is the present 'go-slow' for a ' just ' cause?
At  a considerable  sacrifice  to  the L&T  workmen,  the BKS Union got  the Management to  agree to refer  the cases  of 8 workmen  to the  Labour  Court.   now the  workmen  are being asked  to  make  further  sacrifices.   For  what?   Was  the earlier sacrifice all in vain?  You be the judge.
Our Management ''has a reputation of honouring an understanding, if it was given.   The one and only understanding is the agreement signed   by  the  Union   and  the  Management on 17.3.1978.  Management has every intention of honouring the same.  It is hoped that the educated and intelligent workmen of L&T will also uphold this democratic tradition and honour the  agreement  by  immediately  withdrawing the - GO-SLOW agitation, before this disease  spreads   like plague and consumes our futures !!

H.C. PAREKH

Friday, 30 November 1979

GO-SLOW' AGITATION

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). 

30 Nov 1979

To:

Dear Friends

'GO-SLOW'  AGITATION 
Whom does it hurt?
In our Notice dt.  28th instant  I  had explained  to  the workmen  that their agitation for reinstatement  of 8 workers is both  unfair and unjust.  We had also  advised the workmen to immediately  withdraw their action  of 'Go-slow' which can only hurt their own interest in the long term.
Despite   this   advice,   the   'go-slow'   is   continuing. Apparently  better  counsel has  not  prevailed.   This is  a matter  of  regret  and considerable  concern.   Already  the transport and  the canteen services are  disorganised and the workmen  are suffering.   If production  losses  pile-up, the workmen  cannot expect to remain unaffected.   The Management shall  not  remain an  idle spectator  should  this 'go-slow' agitation continue.
We  once  again  appeal   to  the  workmen  to  withdraw  the agitation at  once and adopt  democratic methods for settling their grievances, if any.
For nearly  18 months,  the  Union  has delayed  the  court-proceedings  in the matter  of 8 workmen.   It has taken the Union almost 18 months to file their Statement  of claim before the  Court, in October'79.  All along, the Management has shown anxiety to expedite the case.
For those of  you,  who  are  not  completely aware  of  the undertaking given by the Union, not  to agitate on any of the issues covered  by the Settlement  dated 17.3.1978,  the same is reproduced alongside.
We look forward to your cooperation in the withdrawal of the agitation and in the restoration of normalcy.

H.C. PAREKH

'GO-SLOW' AGITATION

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). 

30 Nov 1979

To:

Dear Friends

'GO-SLOW'  AGITATION 
Whom does it hurt?
In our Notice dt.  28th instant  I  had explained  to  the workmen  that their agitation for reinstatement  of 8 workers is both  unfair and unjust.  We had also  advised the workmen to immediately  withdraw their action  of 'Go-slow' which can only hurt their own interest in the long term.
Despite   this   advice,   the   'go-slow'   is   continuing. Apparently  better  counsel has  not  prevailed.   This is  a matter  of  regret  and considerable  concern.   Already  the transport and  the canteen services are  disorganised and the workmen  are suffering.   If production  losses  pile-up, the workmen  cannot expect to remain unaffected.   The Management shall  not  remain an  idle spectator  should  this 'go-slow' agitation continue.
We  once  again  appeal   to  the  workmen  to  withdraw  the agitation at  once and adopt  democratic methods for settling their grievances, if any.
For nearly  18 months,  the  Union  has delayed  the  court-proceedings  in the matter  of 8 workmen.   It has taken the Union almost 18 months to file their Statement  of claim before the  Court, in October'79.  All along, the Management has shown anxiety to expedite the case.
For those of  you,  who  are  not  completely aware  of  the undertaking given by the Union, not  to agitate on any of the issues covered  by the Settlement  dated 17.3.1978,  the same is reproduced alongside.
We look forward to your cooperation in the withdrawal of the agitation and in the restoration of normalcy.

H.C. PAREKH

Wednesday, 28 November 1979

NOTICE

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).

28 Nov 1979

To:

Dear Friends

                                                              NOTICE

It  is reported  that the  Bharatiya Kamgar Sena at a Gate Meeting held on Friday, the  23rd November 1979, directed the workers to resort to  'Go slow' in work to secure the demands of reinstatement of  8 workers, full wages for  the period of suspension  of  operations  & subsequent  strike,  additional ex-gratia  bonus,  etc.    in  response  to  this  direction, workers, particularly  key personnel, have  started absenting from  work, work to  rule,  go  slow, refusing  overtime etc. Which  have  disrupted  the  essential services  in  canteen, transport etc.  The  shop floor workers have also slowed down their performance in work  and are resorting to sporadic work stoppages  under the pretext  of  non-availability of canteen services on time.
Employees are  aware  that the  issue of  reinstatement  of 8 workers  has been  referred to  industrial  Tribunal for  its adjudication and the  issue of payment of full  wages for the period of suspension  of operations and strike  is before the Arbitrator in accordance with  the Settlement dated March 17, 1978. In this Settlement the Union/workmen   have categorically  agreed  not  to  resort  to  strike,  go  slow tactics and  any other type of agitation on these two issues and  that  they shall  cooperate  with  the Management  in maintaining   discipline and improving production and productivity.
The actions on  the part of workmen, described above, amount to  serious  misconducts  under  the  Standing  Orders, and illegal strike/unfair labour practices in  contravention of the provisions of  the industrial Disputes Act and Maharashtra Recognition  of  Trade  Unions &  prevention  of Unfair Labour Practices  Act.  These acts are also in breach of the terms of the binding Settlements dated March 17, 1978 and January 12, 1979.
All workers are hereby advised not to indulge in such indisciplined and illegal acts and to restore normalcy forthwith.
Although, the issues/demands raised by the BKS Union are subjudice, it would have been more natural for  the Union to discuss these  matters with the  Management across  the table in a peaceful and congenial working atmosphere, rather than resorting to unjustified direct action.

H.C. PAREKH

Monday, 12 November 1979

PRODUCTIVITY- “PRODUCT” OF THE BRAIN BY THE BRAWN


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 1979

PRODUCTIVITY- “PRODUCT” OF THE BRAIN BY THE BRAWN

Someone said recently that productivity is yet another name for the work. The definition is elegant for its simplicity. It is a simple statement of an otherwise complex subject. It is also a brief statement. It has, therefore, both the key attributes of mathematics-simplicity and brevity.
Looking beyond this simple definition, the word ‘productive’ makes us think of the manner in which this hard work-or effort-was applied. Was all that hard work effective? The cause and effect relationship is brought into picture. Obviously, effort is the “cause”. But was the effort “effective”? Did it produce the desired result? Or did it produce any result at all?
Now we see the light: No matter how “hard” the effort, it is no good – not productive – unless it produces certain “effects” – the results.
Long before man invented the circle, he used square wheels on Stone age carts. You can imagine the effect: (Those who drive on Bombay roads do not have to stretch their imaginations). It called for applying a lot of effort but did not take one very far: It also took a long time to get anywhere. Although time was not important, the effort was so when the stone age cart Mark it, with circular wheels was test-marketed, it was an instant success:
Someone had finally hit the key-how to multiply muscle power by brainpower – the “product” of the brain by the brawn. From this “product” came “productivity”. This then is the more involved definition of productivity. Life on earth was never going to be the same again: Let us look at the change the definition underwent.
              effect = F (effort)
(i.e. effect is a function of effort) we moved into
effect = F (effort x brain)
So we learned how to enhance the effect for the same given effort through application of intelligence. Alternatively, for the same given effect, we could use much less effort, using mental skills.
Productivity, therefore, means using both body and mind simultaneously, for easier attainment of a given end-result.
Although there is limit beyond which the body cannot be prodded to greater effort, there does not seem to be any such limit to mental powers. When the two are multiplied, the results can be fantastic. THE history of mankind has proved this again. Depressingly, more often than not, this multiplication has been used for the self rather than for the benefit of mankind.
IN so far as productivity means producing more for the same effort or producing the same quantity for less effort, no one would have any quarrel. This was particularly so when it concerned one’s own efforts to gain an individual advantage. Such a situation, however, did not last beyond the days of the caveman who hunted alone for food.
For an end objective, in this case food – shall we say survival? – cooperative effort emerged as early as the caveman – hunter era. Cooperative effort was synergetic and certainly more productive. The cooperative effort was problem-solving in so much as it was an answer (solution) to the question of survival. Cooperation also improved the chance of attaining the desired solution.
One does not know for sure, but at this stage one or more of the following things happened:
1.  Some persons with a greater sense of survival desired greater (than equal) share of the end-result.
2.  Some persons with greater mental or greater physical abilities desired a greater share –a share out of proportion to their physical effort contribution.
(This was a couple of million years before man stopped working for himself and started working for the income tax Department).
Anyway, we see here at once the roots of Marx-Lenin’s class struggle as also Lord Mahavira’s Asteya principle of desirability of minimum wants. As long as an individual desired to take more out of the Society than what he was prepared to give to the society by way of his effort, no societal wealth could be created. In such a situation an individual could amass wealth only at the cost of improvement of some other individuals, the sum total remaining the same.
It is only when every member of the society gave more to it than what he took away, could societal wealth increase. Create more, consume less. Contribute more, distribute less. This, then is the principle of the Wealth of Nations.
Now you will notice the relevance of the earlier remarks. Productivity became a dirty word only when it became synonymous with exploitation of the efforts of the others to gain personal advantage for a few. This was particularly so in a cooperative venture like an industrial organization where necessary persons of varying physical and mental skills must work together towards a common goal.
Even in an idealistic situation where nobody took advantage of nobody, the question of establishing an equation (or rather an inequation - mathematically speaking!) between the contributions of thousands of employees, each possessing an unique combination of physical and mental skills, remains intractable. Although some norms of overall corporate productivity can be established for a given venture and could prove to be useful yardstick if used consistently, the enormous complexity of a modern business venture renders all but impossible any attempt at measuring an individual’s contribution to that overall productivity gain. Any overall productivity index tends to mix up the effect of several resource inputs in the denominator of the simplified formula.
Productivity = Output
    Input
The same is true of the selection of any numerator, such as sales, cost of production, profit, etc. Therefore, the only true measure of labour productivity can be equated as
                     Labour productivity =   Physical output
Labour manhours
The foregoing equation is particularly true for a diversified operation. Considering that, at macro level, no single index can be found which can isolate labour productivity, it appears inescapable that all the manufacturing units must establish work standards in terms of the standard hours for the production to be achieved. The ration of the standard hours to the actual hours would then indicate an individual’s or group’s performance index or productivity level. Output as measured by the number of physical units for a given unit of time is something which is easily understood by all concerned. This brings us back to where we started, namely hard work – for what is hard work other than doing more in the same period of time?


H.C. PAREKH