Lulu was whistling the tune ‘Ye public hai, ye sab jaanti hai, ye jo public hai!’ as he landed
on my table.
‘That old Bollywood song!’ I said.
“The lyricist has been exceptionally insightful.”
“Sorry, I could not follow you. What are you referring to?”
“You are reading and writing so much about Maruti workers’
strike. Did you notice that in similar strikes the public opinion in some cases
favoured management, while in some other cases it favoured workers?”
“Now that you say it, I realise that the public had its opinion
on such issues.”
“In Maruti strike they have held Management of Maruti Suzuki
guilty.” Lulu said.
“Yes, they have. It is not as if workers were blameless, but
in the final judgement public has held the Management responsible.”
“Do you remember the Telco Strike in late eighties? In that
case the public held the Union led by Rajan Nair guilty.”
“You are right. Ratan Tata had just taken over the reins.
People thought that he wanted to make a mark and this was his test by fire.”
“Right. Tatas did not have an image of being very
‘controlling’ in their relationship. Actually, when it came to labour
relations, they were seen, during the Telco strike, as a ‘weak’ management.”
“Not without justification. But the real problem is that the
strong gets arrogant. Rajan Nair fell because of his arrogance. His failure
emanates from it.”
“Sharad Pawar openly supported Tatas. Yet the public
sympathy remained with Ratan Tata.”
“Hmm...interesting. In Maruti case, the Government openly
supported Maruti.”I said.
“In both the cases ‘Recognition’ was an issue. Maruti
refused to deal with the union chosen by workers.” Lulu pointed out
“Yes, Tatas refused to deal with their erstwhile dismissed
worker Rajan Nair. And both the managements did not budge an inch from their
stand.” I agreed.
“Since auto industry supports a large number of ancillary
units. Many others were affected in both the cases.” Lulu said.
“Tell me, why then the public opinion was with Tatas in 1989
and why is it against Maruti Suzuki today?” I asked Lulu.
“Hmmm....I feel that the people know that conflicts are
inevitable. If you work together, there will be differences; there will be
different individual aspirations and mindsets of the parties. The issue is how
the parties have handled conflicts; the public does not appreciate the parties crossing
the invisible boundaries it draws for resolving conflicts.” Lulu said.
“I see your point. They did not like Rajan Nair’s ways of
violence and they did not like Maruti Suzuki dictating choice of union.”
“You are right! The people make their judgement, and they
are good judges.”
“True. And they are not influenced by the outcome of win and
“You said it. That is why I say that the lyricist Anand
Bakshi wrote an insightful song....‘
aji andar kya hai, baahar kya hai,
ye sab kuch
ye jo public hai, yeh
sab jaanti hai, public hai!’