Friday, October 17, 2008

Bigg Boss speaks: welcome back!

Like the proverbial father welcoming back a disowned child, Naresh Goyal has 'reinstated' all the employees his airline recently sacked.

Whether he really could not sleep because of his conscience or the battering the airline was taking in the PR department, Nareshji decided to pull the oldest trick in the politician's arsenal. Take a tough measure and then simply 'roll it back'.

Almost like a reality show where we bid farewell to some participants with high drama and copious tears. Only to soon enough say, laut ke aa...!

Nareshji's turnaround solves the immediate problem of young boys and girls in trademark yellow-and-blue taking to the streets to save their jobs. As well as the noises being made by 'action-oriented' parties ranging from the CPI (M) to the MNS.

But what about the larger issue?

In my last post I pointed out that the manner in which employees were dismissed was callous. But I think any management has a right to terminate employees on probation, given that the business has experienced a downturn.

You just do it more discreetly and compassionately. And often you couch it under 'non-performance'. TCS did it, so did Adventity and Hexaware. Brokerage houses are doing it. Other sectors may soon follow.

Are we mentally prepared for this new and turbulent job market? Apparently not.

Congress spokesperson M Veerappa Moily has declared: "This is India, not America... We against hire-and-fire policy of the aviation industry. You cannot have such a policy in a democracy. People's livelihoods are at stake."

Yes, Mr Moily but can we go the American way in hiring and the Indian way in firing? Which is that we cannot retrench at all??

The Jet airways saga shows that we are still to shed our socialist mindset. While the same employees would happily flit from one company to the next when times were good, they cannot accept that they may be without a job when those good times sour.

If employees can have their cake and eat it too, how will industry remain competitive?

On the positive side, other solutions will now have to be found to 'control costs'. Reinstated employees will probably be asked to accept pay cuts. But why just the few who were sacked? If the 'family' - and the aviation industry as a whole - really is in trouble, let every member accept a pay cut.

I see no reason why We, the Passengers, should bear the burden of increased fares. So that airlines can pay Rs 25,000 to 21 year olds. So that they can pay the loans they've taken to study at training institutes.

On how to apply eye make up.

A consultant somewhere will soon be asked to calculate how much an airline can save annually... if it does away with the war paint :)


  1. Its not that easy as you think Rashmi.

    In countries where hire-and-fire policies are acceptable, there is some kind of social security , which ensures that the person will have something to eat (though the person may not be able to buy makeup).

    But how to implement social-security in this country ?? The only sections that seem to have social security here is "Minorities" (subsidies and interest free loans, which can be waived off during elections)

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Good Post. This is the reason why India will continue to be 'emerging' after another 50 years.
    What is the business doing - running a happy family? If so, Mr. Goel needs to do so with his own money and not investor funds.
    The guy should be sacked.

  4. I don't understand the ruckus created by the employees of Jet Airways. If they are sacked, I am sure the company will offer them the amount equal to their notice period. I don't know for sure but such a clause is generally put in employment agreement document. So I guess instead of just asking employees not to report, Jet could simply have sent their cheques and their official relieving letters to their residences (which are usually 3 - 5 star hotels).
    If I were Naresh Goyal, I would not only have sacked all the bulk of employees but also the person in charge of recruitment. What caused the recruitment department to recruit nearly 20% more employees than required? All people associated with taking the decision to recruit and fire the employees must be asked to explain their reasons for doing such contrary things.
    I have also been a part of a layoff as recent as 1 month ago. Being in the software industry I understand such things are bound to happen. Its the risk I have taken in life to earn more money in the private sector than get a guaranteed job in the public institutions. Its sad that youngsters without a sound understanding of the air travel business have taken loans to learn to be air hostess and stewards.
    Finally I as an investor would never trust another business started by Mr. Naresh Goyal and co.

  5. Rashmi,

    you have written like an over enthusiastic enterprenure. The Jet airways is not based in space, any industry must bear its social responsibilties to survive the competition in a better way.

  6. hi !
    remember you had heard it first from me - see my last comment in ur previous post

  7. It is high time that our indian incorporation learn the lessons from their western counter parts. Current perception by majority of indians is that india is well sheilded from the western meltdown that is on its way to engulf rest of the world. Bottom line is honey moon is over for job hoppers and it is time to be more loyal and commited to your company.

  8. another example of the pains of maturing.. india is stuck in a time warp where it needs the solace of socialism and also the bravado of capitalism.. these are unchartered waters for india and hence the weird responses..
    it will take generations to wash out the need for singing Kumbaya and simultaneously claiming that indian lion is roaring..

    what i find funny watching India from a global stage is that there is a lot of hot air floating around..

    we cant wait to scream our lungs out that we have arrived as a country and claim that the next century in ours but we miserably flunk some basic tests of maturity.. loads of superiority complex in our words and our actions can shame convicted felons.. this incident and the one with nano tell are clear signs that we will take at least 2-3 generations before becoming comparable to the developed world (yeah yeah we have malls and cell phones yet our millions die of flooding, hunger, cold, heat and treatable diseases.. amazing growth model)

    till then, lets play those insane bollywood movies / songs, shake a leg, scream our lungs out for every inconsequential thing done by anyone remotely connected to India, shout out that India is special, behave dreadfully like new money (even when there hardly is any) and congratulate ourselves on the progress:)))

    and the whole world is amazed at the circus created out of nothing but humongous power of breeding (a billion bodies)

  9. " You just do it more discreetly and compassionately. And often you couch it under 'non-performance' ".

    Unlike in western countries, where you could lose job just because of business conditions, in India we dont want to accept the fact that just as good business conditions create more jobs poor business conditions results in losing some jobs. The more there is resistance to such business decisions, the more managements find such backdoor methods as performance criteria to fire people. Losing a job is tough, being unduly branded as a non performer is horrible. No wonder there is so much stigma attached to getting fired in India.

  10. Rashmi..the dig on the training institutes teaching how to apply eye makeup is in bad taste..u mite believe that these institutes are worth nothing and don't teach anything.. but one thing they teach which no IIM teaches is to be humble and modest.

  11. Rashmi, your biases are very very evident.

    As always, 'status-seekers' in society.

    More power to the service class!

    The colour of money earned thru an iim/iit/more such degree is the same as : )

    Do spend 6 months in a service job i.e. bpo, flight crew etc to fully understand the virtues i.e. being punctual, adhering to a pre-decided break-pattern, ability to take feedback on a continous basis, workplace discipline, more.

    Salut, to the services sector.

  12. The Gods of capitalism are going socialist my friends....what is wrong with India remaining a socialist nation?

  13. I think the airline industry can certainly do with some cost-cutting. The Cabin crew are insanely overpaid for the skills they possess (cute face and good English).

  14. " You just do it more discreetly and compassionately. And often you couch it under 'non-performance' ".

    Actually that is the worst way to fire some one. You need to lay it honestly, and there will be no hard feelings. Branding some one, falsely, a "non performer" has severe consequences in the the persons future job hunt. Lay-off and firings are treated differently by hiring managers.

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