Some Pointers on How to Avoid Workplace Violence

The previous articles in this module introduced the phenomenon of workplace violence with some contemporary examples. This article provides some pointers on how to avoid the same and prevent violent incidents from happening.

First, it should be noted that early signs of potential workplace violence should not be ignored and should not be left for another day. For instance, when workers demand higher compensation and threaten aggressively, the HR department and the Labor officer must immediately take note of the situation and try to resolve it at the earliest. Since workplace violence happens after a series of low intensity incidents that culminate in an outbreak of large-scale violence, it is better to spot the signs early and then take corrective action before it is too late.

Next, whenever workers or the unions demand more benefits or complain against the working conditions, the HR department and the Labor officer should not be complacent or dismiss the demands lightly.

In the case of the recent incident in Manesar involving the workers of the Maruti plant, such demands were pending before the management for a long time, which tried to address them by either coercing the workers or by derecognizing the unions.

The point here is that violence manifests after all possible avenues for reconciliation are exhausted and hence, it is in the interest of both sides to not ignore the initial moves towards rapprochement. Either the best way to deal with the lurking fear of violence is to address the demands forcefully or by deploying additional security, forces instead of letting the situation go out of hand.

Third, in cases where the unions or the workers adopt belligerent stand right from the beginning, it is better to take drastic action right away instead of letting the matter go out of hand and resulting in violence. For instance, companies can threaten to close the plants and move to other states or countries to make the unions see sense and come to the negotiating table. In the recent past, there have been instances around the world where the workers started to behave violently right from the time they put forward their demands, which were first ignored and then ultimately led to avoidable incidents.

Finally, the management must be fair to workers and try to redress their grievances by recognizing the legitimate unions and then bringing them to the negotiating table.

The point here is that management must not give scope to undesirable elements taking advantage of the situation and exacerbating the same. This has been proved repeatedly in the case of management union disputes where outside elements saw an opportunity to create trouble and instigated the workers to violence. Moreover, the government has a duty towards the company and the workers as well and hence, it should play a proactive role in bringing both sides together and not let the situation go out of hand.

It must be remembered that for countries like India to grow and prosper, a healthy manufacturing base is needed that entails cooperative work environment free from violence and a cohesive organizational culture that takes into account all the needs of the stakeholders.

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