Crisis Blown over

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November 30, 1997 goes down in the history of a Bangalore-based electric company as the day nobody wanting it to recur but everyone recollecting it with sense of pride. It was a festive day for all the 700-plus employees. Festoons were strung all over, banners were put up; banana trunks and leaves adorned the factory gate, instead of the usual red flags; and loud speakers were blaring Kannada songs. It was day the employees chose to celebrate Kannada Rajyothsava, annual feature of all Karnataka-based organisations. The function was to start at 4 p.m. and everybody was eagerly waiting for the big event to take place. But the event, budgeted at Rs 1,00,000 did not take place. At around 2 p.m., there was a ghastly accident in the machine shop. Murthy was caught in the vertical turret lathe and was wounded fatally. His end came in the ambulance on the way to hospital. The management sought union help, and the union leaders did respond with a positive attitude. They did not want to fish in troubled waters. Series of meetings were held between the union leaders and the management. The discussions centred around two major issues—(i) restoring normalcy, and (ii) determining the amount of compensation to be paid to the dependants of Murthy. Luckily for the management, the accident took place on a Saturday. The next day was a weekly holiday and this helped the tension to diffuse to a large extent. The funeral of the deceased took place on Sunday without any hitch. The management hoped that things would be normal on Monday morning. But the hope was belied. The workers refused to resume work. Again the management approached the union for help. Union leaders advised the workers to resume work in al departments except in the machine shop, and the suggestions was accepted by all. Two weeks went by, nobody entered the machine shop, though work in other places resumed. Union leaders came with a new idea to the management—to perform a pooja to ward off any evil that had befallen...
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