Employee Relations at North Delhi Power Ltd: A Case Analysis Delhi Vidyut Board (DVB), a Delhi State owned power distribution company, had run into heavy losses. The major reasons were power thefts, dissatisfied customer base and high employee corruption. Lack of a proper HR department and workers grievance’s system also added to their worries. When NDPL took over, it brought series of functional and structural changes in the organization. The business was modified to be more customer focused.
NDPL undertook several measures like offering VRS, redefining KRAs and JDs, increasing number of zones and circles and redefining the organization’s vision statement. The new HR department framed performance driven appraisal policies for NDPL scheme based employees. Some grievance addressing system like ‘Meet the CEO’ and ‘Sarathi’ were also launched. These measures generated good-will among the workers which could be gauged by the successful celebration of ‘Industrial Harmony Week’ on May day. The event included several cultural and social activities aimed to promote NDPL’s work culture.
With time, the differential treatment of DVB scheme based and NDPL scheme based employees started to cause friction in their relationships. This separation of workers based on schemes was a thing which probably NDPL could have avoided. Kuldeep’s subordination problem was also a manifestation of this differential treatment. It was also an example of side-effects of collaborative working between Heera Lal and the employers. Workers thought Heera lal had turned into a steward and had ‘sold-out’ their interests to the management. Ref: Achieving a New Equilibrium? ) It led to Kuldeep Sharma gaining their confidence and getting himself elected as General Secretary of DSWEU. Rehman’s case further enhanced Kuldeep’s leadership position in the eye of his supporters. Currently, Sardana faces challenge in balancing trade-off between handling noncompliance and avoiding major disturbances in the organization. The secondary problem is of 160 non productive water women who, on the advice of union, refused to divulge themselves in vocational training.
It is a perfect example of how ‘technological context’ could affect equations of the complex industrial relationships among workers and employers. (Ref: Industrial Relations – A Theoretical Model) There are several ways in which Sardana could handle Kuldeep’s subordination problem. Sardana could gauge the influencing role Kuldeep is playing in union dynamics. He could avoid any direct confrontation with Kuldeep and should persuade him for a re-election. Another way is to confront Kuldeep and take disciplinary action against him.
The union laws do not allow management to dismiss, discharge or punish an employee just because his stature as leader is unrecognized. (Ref: NDPL case, Exhibit – I, (iii)). But Kuldeep and his rebellious & non compliant supporters could still be charged with a subordination case as they are binded with Code of Discipline in Industries. (Ref: Exhibit III). I would suggest the second approach because any non conformity with industrial standards should be severely dealt with. The deeper problem of conflict between DVB and NDPL scheme based employees needs to be addressed.
The popular belief among workers is in coherence with what Ranabir Samaddar based on a case study of newspaper article suggested that ‘Technology is a weapon in the hands of the management to eliminate trade unions’. (Ref: Labour and Change) Management should first and foremost focus on creating awareness regarding fairness and job security among DVB scheme based employees. The secondary problem of deciding about 160 women water workers is tricky one to handle. The women workers refused vocational training offered to them because they wanted job security which a government job can offer.
However, the history of Indian industrial relationship indicates that bargaining efforts by unions, most often than not, do not bear any significant fruits. With time state, corporate and public sectors have down sized their organizations in order to create flatter hierarchy. (Ref: Labour and Change). The women workers need to be given a VRS option and should be made to understand logic behind their decision. If they do not go with the VRS option, they should be again given the option of vocational training. In case they still show disinterest they should be terminated from their services. Submitted by: Shakti Prakash Chittara MBA FT – 071