Sunday, September 7, 2008

Entrepreneurs, Growth & Oppressed labour

There was time when industrial development brought in economic development on one hand and on the other hand ushered in an environment of exploitation of labour. This was the case of entrepreneurship all over the world.In America in the early Nineteen century there were number of factories to pack sardine fish harvested from Monterrey peninsula .In these factories thousand of workers, were employed who worked for eighteen hours a day with meager compensation and no facilities. Today such atrocious duty hours& compensation are unthinkable. The entrepreneurs then made profit out of exploitation. Slowly exploitation of workmen were stopped by legislation and by voluntary efforts of trade unions leaders and by liberated entrepreneurs. A time came,in early twentieth century, when workers started exploiting the entrepreneurs through lightning strike, work closures, Gheraos and go slow. Entrepreneurs were paid back through their own coins. But later liberated labour leaders and progressive entrepreneurs both understood that exploitation of each other would not really usher in proper development in real sense of the term.The survival of the enterprise is a must both for trade unionism and for entrepreneurs. The history of growth changed from oppression to patron ship and ultimately to partnership. Today in the modern world business enterprise survives on the premises of partnership yet employer and employee relationship remains to be the focal point of development.
The History of industrialisation in our country also followed the similar pattern The rise and fall of business empire and re-emergence of strong Enterprise in Bombay, Ahmadabad, Chennai and Kolkata strongly reflected the similar pattern. Out of the employers employee conflict most of the state have been able to come out successfully in the later part of twentieth century. The Bengal had also made strong efforts of late to get out the mess of industrial relations conflict but is yet to prove itself. What is the scenery of our own state of Assam now?

Assam remains one of the poorest industrially developed state of the country. Perhaps it is worse than even Bihar. The economic growth rate perhaps is even lower than Nagaland. During the time of independence our state was the forerunner in contributing substantial GDP of the country. What had happened in twenty first century? To be frank enough after sixties of Twentieth century there was no real development of new Industry in Assam.Four industry were set up in Assam when K P Tripathy was the industry Minister. Calcination, Hardboard, chemical& fertiliser and speciality carbon products etc. After sixty, like in Bengal, Assam had no real entrepreneurship. Of course tiny enterprise of Moulding, re rolling mills tarpaulin manufacturing battery and hardware products came and went bye. But no real manufacturing units came up.Perhaps due to lack of local entrepreneurship. During the twenty first century after surviving the mess of terrorism a few entrepreneurs really have taken a serious interest in investing in Assam now. This is the time when industrial scenery should be calm, empowering and reassuring. The government for the first time, after sixties, have assurance from local and outside entrepreneurs for solid investment. At this time a new mess has been generated in Assam which is very disturbing.
This is the rise of labour - Management conflict. An arrogant trade unionism ( non adhering even the advice of High court) with the help of anti social elements are forcing a non tranquil situation. Management is standing by as an on looker as the matter is subjudice. The Government is actively trying to resolve the who is responsible for this could be a subject matter of debate. But no development is possible in an climate of mistrust.
The four factors of production, land,labour, capital and organisation have its own responsibility to achieve a common goal. In modern growth theory the Enterprise must survive first to take care of not only all the factors of production , but also to share the social responsibility. To see that enterprise survives the conflict of labour and management,two other components of society have became guardians. They are(a) Government and (b) Judiciary. The arrogance of warring factions have no role in modern Growth theory. The conflicts needs to be resolved rationally.

Assam was never known for industrial unrest. There were conflict between management and trade union sometime in the past. but those were resolved quickly and enterprise always survive. Long back in early twentieth century there were conflict in Assam Oil company and sometime also in individual Tea gardens. But never was a time when conflict led to suspense of work for month together. Militant trade unions was taboo in Assam. Assam's veteran trade unionists saw to it that all disputes are resolved without arrogance and threat to either party. It is now seen that recently number of enterprise went through a process of closure, shutdown, suspense of work or lockout.It is imperative to find out what are the reason.Is it due to economic reason for non supply of raw material, non availability of power or non availability of capital? Or is it due to the conflict between labour and the management?It would be a sad day if any enterprise has to be closed down due to the conflict of human interest be it exploitation, arrogance and attitude of non work. Two recent incidents of Human resource of Management in Hindustan lever and Assam carbon might create boomerang effect on development and growth of Industrial enterprise in Assam.
We feel the trend is not healthy. The conflict between Management and Workmen must be resolved within the law of the land. No organisation can be managed with the whims and fancy of the conflicting parties.
Recently Amartya sen in his article "The Industrial Strategy, wrote " it is not an accident that every communist country reliant on pervasive state ownership in the world has either move to welcome private investment quite substantially (as china has done), or has declined and been replaced by straightforward capitalist system(as has happened in Russia and other countries in the former Soviet union). The exception is Cuba, but its economic success is extremely limited. It remains a poor economy."

Every one must realise that a modern workplace must be developed with purely through economic parameter of the modern times.With the globalisation economy of the scale, economy of compensations and economy of the supply chain would rule the roost. Neither militancy , arrogance, lack of skill nor attitude for less work would determine the character of an enterprise. The wind of change has started blowing. It is apparent. In bank, in media and in service sector people are working more number of hours than before handling multi-layers of work. Can manufacturing industry stand alone?
The management also have to stand for judicious compensation package. It cannot get better service with meager compensation. Industry-wise compensation package should be ushered in. Industrial disputes must be resolved within the parameter of the constitution. The interference by political process or by social club must be avoided if industrial development is required. The conflict resolution machinery must be up held either by the government in power or by judiciary. Assam is starving for economic development and without emergence industrial enterprise it would be impossible to solve the unemployment problem. In ten year urban unemployment would be resolved.there would be no educated unemployment in Assam but unless industrial development take place rural unemployment would bring in crisis in Assam. It would prudent for all concerned to see that new industry is brought in with modern work culture and let workmen work with redouble vigour with healthy attitude towards optimum work culture.

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