Indian boss beaten to death

And you think you’ve got employee relations problems – CEO killed over working hours

Fed up of whinging employees complaining about their wages? Think yourself lucky with your lot in the context of (as it emerged yesterday) furious employees at a jute mill in the Indian state of West Bengal killing their boss after he allegedly rejected their demand to increase weekly working hours to boost their wages. The 68 year old CEO, H K Maheshwari, died on the way to hospital after he was beaten with iron rods and pelted with stones.

The incident took place hours before the mill management and workers were scheduled to discuss reduction in working hours. The mill was allegedly suffering from low orders, and wanted to cut down on employees’ working hours. It had already been operating for only eight hours a day in the past few weeks.

The management wanted to scale down operations by running the plant three days a week or five hours a day, but the employees represented by eight trade unions wanted the mill to function for at least five days a week.

Now it’s pretty normal in scale back situations to propose changes to working hours and conditions, but fortunately not normally with lethal consequences for the management team. The story, first seen by us in the Times today, does though serve to illustrate the sensitivities of employees during redundancy or wind down activities, and even in the absence of an expectation of violence, it’s worth factoring in consideration of an emotional reaction. A well-handled consultation will ensure a balance of fairness and transparency, underwritten by encompassing communication and the involvement of employees from an early stage.

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