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

Thursday, 1 January 1987

FREEDOM AT MIDNIGHT

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). 

1 Jan 1987

To:

Dear Friends                      

FREEDOM AT MIDNIGHT

This is the title of a famous book written  by Mr. Lapierre.

It tells  the history of  our country's  freedom-struggle and the role played by  such eminent persons like Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Sardar Patel, etc. etc.

It tells how the  sacrifices (of even life) made by  thousands of  Indian Patriots  finally led to  our country  becoming  an independent nation on the midnight of August  14, 1947.

This was  nearly 40  years ago  - and  a large number  of our Powai-employees were not even born by  that time.

So  I can understand  that they  neither know  nor appreciate why thousands sacrificed their lives for this freedom.!

But  is that the  reason, why  some of  them have  taken to a different kind of FREEDON AT MIDNIGHT  ?

A few days back, a couple of  foremen made a "surprise-visit" of a department at night.

And what did they find ?         

7 workmen' were playing cards.        
2 workmen were sitting in the cloak -room        
1 worker was sleeping in the cloak-room.

All during working-hours !

But  there were  also 10  other self-disciplined  workmen who were continuing  to work at their work-place ! - In the same department .!

And then there were  500 other workmen all over Powai  in that second-shift  who were  also  working  - and  trying  to  earn their bread honestly.'

Apparently  the  7+2+1       workmen  had found  a new,  young-generation meaning of

"Freedon at Midnight" !

I am  not going to reveal  the names of  these workmen or the name  of their  department, but  your  friends will  tell you when you are eating in the canteen or  travelling in the bus.

By now, some of you must be itching to ask me, 

"What was the department-supervisor doing all  this time ?"

But some or you will never ask me this question  !


Because you  were asking me  a different question  when  I met you at  the last Worker  Education Class,  or at the  Lonavala Shibir on Dec. 20, 1986.  You were asking  me,

"Sir, why do we need  so many shop-supervisors ?  Our worker-strength  is  coming down  but  shop-supervisor  strength  is going up.  Are they making any contribution  to production?"

Although  I  knew  the  answer,  I  told  you  to  raise  this question with your Managers.
But now you know the answer !     

-    We don't need them .full-time for production.    
-    But we do need them for policing !

That night,  the  shop-supervisor had  left the  shop on  some urgent  work  -  so in  fact,  there  was  no one  to  do  the policing.

So what happens ?

Promptly, 10 out of 20 workmen stop working  !

No wonder, during the 3 year period (April  81 - April 84),

-  whereas worker-strength went up by only 23 persons    (3676 ——>      3699)
-  the shop-supervisor strength went up by 43 persons !    (291 —>        334)

which means,

-  In 1981, we needed one supervisor to supervise 12.60    workers
-  In 1984, we needed one supervisor to supervise 11.07    workers.

If  only employees  would  keep working  for  the  eight-hours whether  anybody is  watching or  not,  we could  manage  with half the number of Shop-Supervisor—!!

And if 160  supervisors could be spared  from the shops,  they could do much more productive work like,

-    Planning production.
-    Getting materials/components.
-    Designing tools.
-    Making process-sheets.
-    Conducting method-studies.
-    Selecting  machineries.
-    Laying-down assembly-lines, etc.

Let me tell you one thing in case you don't know.                          

No shop-supervisor  likes  (let alone enjoy  !) to  waste his time  looking for  missing-from-the-workplace workmen  in the toilets and cloak-rooms !

If  anything, they  hate  such work  !  It is  an  unpleasant work.  But if it is forced onto them, the will  do it.

The purpose of this  letter is not to find fault with certain individuals.  For that, management  has the normal methods  of show-cause, charge-sheet, domestic-inquiry, punishment,  etc.

The  purpose is  to  find fault  with our  behaviour  and  our attitudes.   Will we  behave  properly  only when  someone  is watching us from behind or, from above ?

If that  helps, I would  like to  remind all my  colleagues  -whether working in shops or  offices, whether in first shift, second   shift  or   third  shift,  that   if  they   are   to look-around, they will  find nearby  somewhere, a  picture  of the God, watching them from above !

And if you will  listen carefully  (even without closing your eyes ! ) you will hear Him say

"Work is Worship and I am Watching YOU all the time !"

H.C. PAREKH

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