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, 31 December 2015

STRIKE AVOIDED?

 (  Contributor  :  A M  Deshmukh  )

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This is a story relating to one of our subsidiary Companies having history of constant Industrial Relations problems. The unit was employing about 450 employees and was working in all three shifts. The majority of the workmen were working in the 1st and General shift and very few in the 2nd and 3rd shift.

The workmen were represented by the same union, which was recognized at our main factory at Powai. There was a unit level committee of five employees to represent unionized employees.  Out of 5 committee members, 3 were moderate and 2 aggressive and militant. However, these local committee was under control /guidance of the union leaders at Powai, in respect of all major issues.

One day in the 3rd shift one of the union leader was caught committing a serious misconduct. The next day matter went up to the Senior Management level. As disciplinary action involved a union committee member, it would have definitely resulted in a serious IR problem and disruption of normal operations. Considering gravity of the misconduct and his past record it was decided to suspend him pending inquiry, act swiftly by taking all follow up actions. In view of the grave misconduct it was necessary to ensure that he is not    permitted to enter the factory premises and suspension orders are issued forthwith.

The following steps were involved in the implementation of the above decision.

1) To serve the Suspension Order (pending inquiry) at the gate before this leader enters the factory premises for working in the 3rd shift so that his entry to factory premises will be stopped

2) To issue charge sheet, complete domestic inquiry and then to dismiss him in view of very serious nature of his misconduct.

The Unit Management being fully aware of the local IR situation anticipated the serious IR repercussion as soon as suspension order was served.

1) The person concerned will refuse to accept the order and when stopped from entering the factory premises he will also stop all other workman (who were small in number) of the 3rd shift from entering the factory premises:

 “WHICH MEANS BEGINING OF STRIKE IN THE 3RD SHIFT “                                
2) Next day when 1st & General shift workman report for duty, they will be also stopped by this leader, as well as other workman of 3rd shift (who would be already on strike), from entering factory premises and hence the strike will engulf the 1st and General shifts as well.

3) Management will not have any opportunity to involve other moderate leaders of the unit as well Powai union leader before start of such spontaneous strike by all workmen.

4) Moderate union leaders of the Unit, as well, Powai leaders will not have any opportunity to take a appropriate stand / approach before start of strike and they will have to fall in line helplessly. Thus giving rise to the situation of drawing the entire unit into a long drawn out industrial dispute.

To avoid such potentially explosive situation leading to a strike and still deal with grave misconduct firmly, the other option was:

        a) To permit the said leader to enter the factory premises and to permit him to work in 3rd shift, as usual and differ issuing of the Suspension order at the beginning of the 3rd shift.

        b) To issue the Suspension order after closer of the 3rd shift and after ensuring commencement of work of the 1st&the General shift.

While above option was far more practical & a tactical move and could have avoided potential lightening strike situation, the decision to allow the said workman to work in the 3rd shift and not take immediate cognizance of his act of serious indiscipline (by stopping his entry at the gate), was not in line with clear directions of the top management to act swiftly in this matter.

Knowing Management will always be supportive of the local unit management‘s opinion and judgment, particularly while dealing with local IR issues, it was decided, in the overall interest, not to follow the instructions received from senior management.

Hence it was decided:

   -- Not issued Suspension order at the beginning of the shift and permitted the leader to work in 3rd shift as normal

   -- The leader was asked to wait at the gate while the leaving the factory after the end of his shift working in the 3rd shift

   -- The local union leaders who reported for work in the 1st & general shift were called and briefed

    -- Simultaneously, Powai Management also briefed Union committee members.

As expected, the concerned leader refused to accept the Suspension order and started mobilizing   support of all the workman of the factory calling upon them to strike work. However, to his surprise, he could not get support and he could not force his decision on the other local unit leaders as well Powai committee as they already knew the facts of the case and the misconduct for which suspension order was issued.

The Result!

-- No strike and smooth working continued in all shifts.

--The leader did not report to work next 3 / 4 days and eventually accepted the Suspension order and faced the inquiry.

-- Finally after completion of inquiry he was awarded punishment of one step lesser of dismissal.


What I learned and have always experienced while working in L&T is …

...that the Management respected opinion and advice of professional managers even while deciding on sensitive IR issues and ensured full empowerment to the operating management to deal with local level operating issues within the overall guidelines

… the natural outcome, managers never hesitated to take ownership, do their best to find a good solution and also remain accountable for the outcomes of their actions.


A.M.Deshmukh

30 / 12 / 2015
                                                                                                              




Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Adieu to L&T

( Contributor :  Rajendra  Panchal  )

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Dear All,
              
 It is indeed a mixed feeling, when I am on the verge of superannuating from L&T, as my last day in L&T, 1 January 2016 has arrived  to start the Second Inning ! ……. Thought of sharing with you…..
                                            
….Aur….Jane se pahele……..

L&T is my first company as an employee and feel extremely lucky to have it also as the Last !

I have been extremely lucky to have received help from almost all of you !

 I have always believed that there is at-least one thing in everybody to learn from or to imitate to become better self. The interaction with each of you, have made me, what I am today. 

It gives me feeling of contentment at this moment as I have worked as an employee, only in this great organisation. 

In-fact, I was lucky to be stationed at Powai through out the career span of 33+ years with L&T Tool-room. 

Witnessed many ups & down, shifting of ETS establishment, leaving people, departing souls with whom we have closely worked with and many more things but left behind very special sweet memories involving each of you.

L&T has given me :

Technical knowledge & Tooling and Behavioural skills, Manufacturing Expertise, Logistic understanding, Financial stability, Enhanced Social status, Help in remaining Physically healthy and fit, Retaining core human value…….And many more……


Working with L&T & all of you has been enriching experience. While biding adieu to L&T, I will always cherish these fond memories.

I take this opportunity to apologize, in case I have rubbed any of you on the wrong side as it was surely situational and nothing personal as such.

 My wife Hemaxi and both Daughters Ishita and Amruta joins me in thanking all of you for the support you rendered  during testing time and stood by me.


We wish you all, Happy New Year 2016 and thereafter all years !


Rajendra A. Panchal



A Towering Personality

Contributor : H R Shenoy  )

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1st January 1964

I had completed exactly 9 months in L&T –  and was just 9 days away from normal delivery.

I was in the corridor of C Building ground floor switchgear works, when I saw a towering personality standing in front of me with an extended right hand and the ringing words flowed out “Happy New Year”.

It was one of the great moments of my life in L&T.

The towering personality was that of Mr Henning Holck-Larsen, one of the two founders of L&T and active Chairman of the Board of Directors at that time.

I was told it was customary for him to go round Powai Works and greet each of the about thousand employees (in that year) – a rough estimate of mine.

What followed was more pleasing.

Some minutes later, I had to go to the first floor of C Building on some work.  Again, the same towering personality was in front of me.

This time instinctively I extended my hand.  He said “I have already wished you.”

How he could remember the faces of all he has wished is still a mystery to me after five decades.

………..


Tuesday, 22 December 2015

GOD HAS FORGIVEN YOU


( Contributor  :  hcp  )

I have reproduced this here, from section :

 " Letters to L&T Employees "

Most likely , a handwritten note sent to the driver who drove SRS / RR / myself

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2 Oct 1985

To:

Dear Mr..........

The way you drove the car yesterday while returning from Lonavala was bad.   

On one occasion, while overtaking a truck, we narrowly missed being over-run by an on-coming truck.  

This was a case of very poor judgment.  

But for the forgiving nature of the Lord, the company would have lost a Vice-president, a General Manager, a Deputy General Manager and a normally-good driver !


When  God has  forgiven you,  I  do not  wish to  give you  a charge-sheet and  conduct a trial.   

But you must  learn your lesson  and for  that I am  asking  Transport Manager  not to assign you anymore driving duty  for Senior Managers.

As far as you are concerned, please remember that all lives (which you may drive) are equally precious !

God bless you !

H.C. PAREKH

Saturday, 19 December 2015

A Tale of Two Managers

These incidences happened during the early 60s 

That was when offices in Powai used to work for half-day on Saturday

On one such Saturday , my wife Bharati and some of my friends decided to visit Powai Gardens for a picnic

In those days , the Main Gate of the garden was right opposite our Gate # 1

Having reached Powai garden , a friend in the group said :

While we are here , why don't we visit L&T factory and see what Parekh is doing ?

Of course , the watchman at the gate said , they needed permission from Mr KSS Mani , who happened to be the Administrative Manager at Powai

So Bharati rang me up from the gate and asked whether I could get the required permission

I walked over to KSS's cabin and explained the background ( Powai Picnic ) and asked for his permission for my friends / wife to come inside

KSS said:

" Sorry , company rules do not allow for families to visit the employees while at work ; nor visit any part of the factory "

After considerable persuasion , he agreed to admit 2 visitors at a time

After visit , when those 2 returned to the gate , another 2 can come in  !

When I conveyed this decision to my wife , she refused to accept such an " invite "  !

The friends waited in the garden till the offices closed and I could join them

A few years later , my parents were visiting me in Mumbai 

My father wanted to see where I work and asked if they could accompany me to Powai , one of these days

I mentioned this to my boss, Bjorn Petersen

He said : " Of course , please bring them to my office when they are here "

So , when they arrived , I took them to BjP's cabin

He welcomed them and promptly offered them some tea !

After tea , I told BjP that I will like to show them around the factory

BjP said :

" Parekh ,

  You carry on with your work

  I will show your parents around PSW and the rest of Powai "

Some years later , when I had  job offer for the position of Production Manager in the Switchgear factory of Siemens , my father recalled his visit to Powai and said,

"  Son , Will your German boss in Siemens be as nice as Petersen ? "

Many years later , when I was GM - Powai , someone had introduced a system of Powai visits by families of employees , once a month 

On a few of these visits , I showed the families around Powai Estate

On a number of such visits , I used to meet the family members in the Conference hall , for a cup of tea




Friday, 18 December 2015

Look At The Bright Side

(  Contributor  ;   hcp   )
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Year was , may be , 1960 / 61

Bjorn Petersen ( BjP ) was my boss in Switchgear Factory ( PSW )

Chief Engineer of Gujarat Electricity Board ( GEB ) was to visit PSW to take a look at our 100 A Switch-Fuse unit

If he was satisfied , a large first order was expected

Knowing this, BjP , myself and design engineer I C Joseph were struggling in the machine shop to machine the switch box and the switch cover castings 

That was before we had made the necessary drill-jigs for both

It was " mark , mill , drill " sequence

Around 8 pm , castings were ready for assembly

I applied some glue and placed the grommet in the cover groove

Then inserted the hinge screws and tried to press down , to close the cover shut

Then it happened  !

Cover casting cracked at the hinges ! We had drilled the holes with very little wall left

I stared in disbelief . The blood drained out of my face , expecting a verbal lashing from BjP

Then I heard him speak :

"  Parekh ,

   I am glad this cover cracked NOW

   Just imagine our embarrassment - and customer's disappointment - had it 
   cracked tomorrow morning , during demo 

   Let us machine a new casting and carefully , this time "

Since the store was locked , I climbed over the 10 ' high grill , got inside and brought out another casting

By the time we finished machining / painting and assembling it , it was past midnight

But the demo next day was a great success and we got that order

Early this week , I was having lunch with G Ramakrishna ( GR ) and inquired if he knew the whereabouts of BjP

GR told me that he is still in Mumbai and generally keeping well except that he has lost hearing

GR also told me that , some years back , BjP handed over his Saki Naka factory ( DANCAL ) , to his employees

When Personnel Department introduced some new designations for engineers in 1961 , Petersen realized that it was in contradiction to my appointment letter

Along with the letter of Personnel Department , he attached his personal handwritten note , saying , I may continue to introduce myself within L&T and outside as " Planning Engineer " and that , he is willing to certify that at any time , I desired

In the 60s , L&T was a great place to work for

Thursday, 17 December 2015

On Merits Only

( Contributor  :  hcp  )
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At some time or other , many of us received from our seniors , bio-datas ( that was before we started calling these , " Resumes " ) of candidates looking for jobs in L&T

Invariably , the senders scribbled on those papers :

"  To be considered on merits only "

I am reminded of one time when Mr Holck Larsen ( HHL ) sent me an application from a young girl , for a job in Christensen Longyear ( CLIL )

It seems , her father was a musician who lived on Madh Island , where HHL had a week-end residence . HHL knew this poor jobless man , who had 6/7 children and struggled to feed his family

I sent the application to G J Sampat ( GJS ) , who was Production Manager for Bit Plant

GJS and AMD ( A M Deshmukh , who looked after Madh personnel matters ) interviewed this girl , who claimed she had passed SSC but did not attach a copy of her SSC mark sheet , by way of proof

When she promised to produce it in course of time , AMD issued her an appointment letter

When she failed to produce it despite several reminders over the next few weeks , AMD visited her school in Madh

School principal said , she had never appeared for SSC exam  !

As far as her work was concerned , GJS was quite happy

But L&T rules required that , even for an Unskilled position , applicants must have passed SSC

When this was brought to my notice , I phoned Mrs M L Tavares ( HHL's secretary ) and asked her to let me speak with HHL

When I narrated the background to HHL , he simply said :

"  Parekh , let her go ! "

Incidentally , I do not know how many of you are aware what caused the introduction of the following rule in L&T :

No son / daughter of an L&T employee ( who is at a level of DGM or above ), can be employed in L&T , no matter how meritorious 

This came about when Mr S K Toubro's son desired to join L&T

Must be late 50s 

That is when HHL and SKT , introduced that rule , to ensure that there was no nepotism in L&T

I hope this rule still holds   

  


Tuesday, 15 December 2015

A Director's Dilemma

( Contributor :  hcp  )
--------------------------


This incidence happened sometimes when I was DGM ( Personnel ) - 1972 / 1979

One morning , Mr S R Subramaniam ( SRS ) phoned me

After inquiring how the GET recruitment was progressing , he asked :

"  Parekh ,

Have we issued an appointment letter to one  Ajay  for position of GET ? "

I said :

" I don't remember offhand but let me find out and call you back "

I called up R N Saxena ( RNS ) , and inquired , who confirmed that we had indeed issued such an appointment letter to one Ajay

Typical of RNS ( whose ability to suspect / smell , any hanky-panky by the interviewers was simply unparalleled ) , he also told me the names of the interviewers and the details of the Assessment 

RNS added , 

" Sir,this boy has been selected on his own merits . There is nothing suspicious "

I phoned SRS and confirmed that we have issued an appointment letter to Ajay, although at the same time wondering why was SRS interested in this particular case

Next question from SRS :

" Parekh ,

Did you or anyone in Personnel Department , read the last para on this boy's green Application Form carefully ? '

Unable to fathom the mystery , I said ,

" I cannot be sure , but what seems to be the problem ? "

SRS :

" In that last para , that boy has clearly mentioned that his father is a director in L&T . Are you aware of that ? "

Me :

" No , I am not . But how does that matter ? I want to assure you that none in my department , nor any of the interviewer , is aware of this declaration , nor has that influenced our selection , which is entirely on the merits "

SRS :

"  I have no doubt about the integrity of your staff or of the interviewers . 

But the Company Act requires that , in the forthcoming AGM , we must get the L&T Shareholders to pass a resolution approving of Ajay's appointment in the Company , since his father is a director of the Company - and therefore , an interested party .

Now , you don't worry . I will take care of this formality "

I felt relieved but cautioned RNS , to ensure that all ( not only GET applicants ) application forms are carefully examined in future , from this angle

After a few days , SRS phoned me to say :

"  Parekh ,

Do you remember the case of GET appointment of Ajay ?

His father did not want any embarrassment for himself or for anyone of us , by a resolution in next AGM agenda

He has , himself , decided to resign his directorship in L&T , so that there is no nexus any more . Now there is no need for any AGM  resolution " 

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Just one more example of L&T Values

One more example of what made L&T , a great place to work 












O , Powai :



( Contributor  :  hcp  )

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End of the road,

For these non-animate
Buses and trucks
Full stop !


And yet
The very beginning of a road,
Of a career,

Of a search for happiness

-    material for most
-    spiritual for some,

To the thousands
Very very animate
Humans,

A place of work,
Of worship,
Of daily pilgrimage
Sacrosanct :


O Powai

These people breathe
Beneath your boundless, blue canopy,
An air, full of dignity
Of human labour,


And give you a soul,

These people,
Your children all,

O Powai

Give you a soul
To make you come alive,

With their joys and fears,
And their frustrations,
And their dreams.


They breathe life
In your machines,

In the glass and steel and concrete
Of your edifices,

In your asphalt roads,

In the red of your gold-mohur
And the greens of your lawns.

These people sweat
From dawn to dusk,

To deliver
No mere goods, but
Promises

Of a better tomorrow,
To the teeming millions
Of this ancient land.

Return to them,
A thousand fold

What they give you,

O Powai

Your soul.


----------------------------------------------------
Written : 29  May  1970

Later published in Powai Pageant

Monday, 14 December 2015

Performance Appraisal

 " Performance Appraisal "


( Contributor :  hcp  )

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Forgive me
O Friend ;

You my friend who has 
a thousand faces ,
forgive me
for this impudence ;

to sit upon thy judgement ,
and once again 
this cold winter night ,
lift the pen
and pause  --

to think about
you,

and your " Strengths "
     ( how I wish I knew ! )

and your " Weaknesses "
     ( there is none without one ! )

Last , but not the least,
your " Potential " --

My impertinence
pardon 
dear friend  ;

My claim to omniscience
is hollow ;

But then
I wear a crown of thorns
and walk a razor's edge

I am duty-bound

---------------------------

Written during Annual Performance Appraisal 
L&T Powai
March 1971

Sunday, 13 December 2015

Corporate Governance

(  Contributor  ;  hcp  )

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Nowadays , there is a lot of talk about " Corporate Governance "

Essentially meaning , how Company Directors should abide by the laws of the land and always act in the interest of the stake-holders

Nothing would illustrate this desirable corporate philosophy better than the following incidence

I believe , it was sometimes in the 80s that Mr Holck Larsen ( HHL ) ceased to be the Executive Chairman of L&T

He was re-designated as " Chairman Emeritus "

About a year after that , one Monday , Mr S R Subramaniam ( SRS  ) , walked into my cabin and asked :

"  Parekh ,

Is Powai Transport Department ( PTR ) , servicing / repairing HHL's car ?  "


I said :

"  Yes of course !

On Mondays when all Directors are in Powai for CMC meeting , their drivers take the cars to PTR , for repairs / servicing "

Then knowing SRS's " love for details " , I immediately added ,

" But PTR has Job-Cars  for all these cars where cost of materials and labour hours spent , are meticulously recorded and sent to Accounts Department "

Now it was SRS's turn :

"  Parekh ,

HHL ceased to be an Executive Director , about a year back 

His terms of appointment as Chairman Emeritus , does NOT cover repair / servicing of his car by the Company . He is not entitled for that "

I said ,

" I am sorry but I was not aware of this condition . Now , if you wish , I can just get the Job-Card re-written in the number of one of the Company Cars . Also ensure that this does not happen in future "

SRS agreed re the future course of action but as far as the past one year record was concerned , he said , he will call me back

And after a couple of days , he did :

" Parekh ,

There is no need to reverse those entries on the Job-Card of HHL's car , which amounted to an expenditure of Rs 73,000 / -

Yesterday , HHL has sent to L&T , a cheque for that amount from his personal bank account

He did not want anyone of us to do something that is illegal "