05 May 2020 17:15 IST

HMSI needs to look at a permanent solution

B-schoolers presented interesting, practical and implementable solutions

This was a strongly contested case study competition, where we received several interesting suggestions for Honda – ranging from Honda needing to maintain its international standing and making all the workers permanent, to doing away with the contract workers all together. Most of the entries received for this case have presented a similar set of solutions. The following cases were shortlisted based on interesting, practical and implementable solutions provided by the authors.

Winners: Subham Singhal and Eeshaan Sharma of IIM-A

The solution presented by the authors was to tackle the embargo by handling issues one by one, beginning with the salaries of permanent workers, then the contract workers, and by involving the labour union in making decisions. The authors have also provided solutions for smoothening the production and the proposal of permanent workers training the contract workers is unique. Same is the case of using more contract workers. The authors have provided several options for the company, and all these appear highly implementable. The examples given from different companies and industries show that these plans were implemented successfully and can be adapted to this scenario. The emotional and economic factors for improving the morale of the workers present a long term solution that is universally implementable.

First Runners-Up: Prajakta Dhomne and Aakash Hegde of TAPMI

The authors rightly pointed out that handling so many workers in an industry which was experiencing a slowdown is a challenge that needs to be addressed. The view expressed by these authors is the right opposite of what the first place winners said, about contract workers. It is interesting that to build loyalty the authors were looking at long-term employment. The suggestions for HMSI are of particular interest, especially the proposition to avoid a repeat of the unfortunate Maruti incident. The legal angle that the authors have brought in is unique too, and provides an impetus to the suggested approaches. Re-hiring some of the fired contract employees, say the authors, has two-fold benefits – improved morale and building industrial relations.

Second Runners-Up: Tanya Yadav and Sourabh Agarwal of IIM Kozhikode

The Drive Theory, as mentioned, does not seem to fit particularly well in this situation as we are not really clear as to the intentions of the permanent workers to go on strike. The fact that permanent employees rejoined work later does not support the presented argument completely. Still, the reason to select this as one of the winning entries is some of the interesting solutions it provided. The writers maintained a balanced stance and practical solutions for the workers. The quid-pro-quo with the union leader and minimising influence of union leaders from other plants is of particular interest. The ideas to maintain safety of the plant and management shows good understanding of the issue and the case.

Third Runner-Up: Samidha Padhi of TAPMI

This was chosen for suggestion of the ways in which the company could have prevented the imbroglio from occurring. All these suggestions are easily implementable and beneficial for both the company and the workers. The idea of bringing in transparency through union leaders is noteworthy. Using the services of a skilled negotiator with an impartial view to handle the situation and decide on reinstating some of the workers is also a good idea.

Fourth Runner-Up: Shreya Das of TAPMI

The fact that the company had a high proportion of contract workers was rightly pointed out by the writer. Conducting town hall meetings to let the workers know about the status of the industry can help in placating the permanent workers, who can in turn handle the temporary workers, she suggests. As rightly mentioned, by serving a notice period, HMSI could have avoided the escalation of the problem. The job-finding assistance appears interesting, so was the severance package proposed. The recommendation to take back some of the contract employees, while not reinstating the union leaders, is logically presented.

(The author is Coordinator, Case Research Centre City Unit, IBS Hyderabad.)

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