Bata India's HR Problems


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Case Details:

Case Code : HROB001
Case Length : 06 Pages
Period : 1990 - 2001
Organization : Bata India Ltd.
Pub Date : 2001
Teaching Note : Available
Countries : India
Industry : Shoes and Apparel

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Please note:

This case study was compiled from published sources, and is intended to be used as a basis for class discussion. It is not intended to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of a management situation. Nor is it a primary information source.

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Excerpts

Assault Case

More than half of Bata's production came from the Batanagar factory in West Bengal, a state notorious for its militant trade unions, who derived their strength from the dominant political parties, especially the left parties. Notwithstanding the giant conglomerate's grip on the shoe market in India, Bata's equally large reputation for corruption within, created the perception that Weston would have a difficult time. When the new management team weeded out irregularities and turned the company around within a couple of years, tackling the politicized trade unions proved to be the hardest of all tasks.

On July 21, 1998, Weston was severely assaulted by four workers at the company's factory at Batanagar, while he was attending a business meet. The incident occurred after a member of BMU, Arup Dutta, met Weston to discuss the issue of the suspended employees. Dutta reportedly got into a verbal duel with Weston, upon which the other workers began to shout slogans. When Weston tried to leave the room the workers turned violent and assaulted him. This was the second attack on an officer after Weston took charge of the company, the first one being the assault on the chief welfare officer in 1996...

Industrial Relations

For Bata, labor had always posed major problems. Strikes seemed to be a perennial problem. Much before the assault case, Bata's chronically restive factory at Batanagar had always plagued by labor strife. In 1992, the factory was closed for four and a half months. In 1995, Bata entered into a 3-year bipartite agreement with the workers, represented by the then 10,000 strong BMU, which also had the West Bengal government as a signatory.

It was in 1998, that the company for the first time signed another long-term bipartite agreement with the unions without any disruption of work. Apprehensive about labor problems spilling over to other units, the company entered into similar long-term agreements with the unions at its manufacturing units at Bangalore and Faridabad.

In February 1999, a lockout was declared in Bata's Faridabad Unit. Middleton commented that the closure of the unit would not have much impact on the company's revenues as it was catering to lower-end products such as canvas and Hawaii chappals...


 

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