Trade Unions in the Indian Premier League?

Glenn Maxwell © Getty Images

By Rahul Namjoshi

During the early part of my career, an era when the wheel was just about starting to gain popularity, I came across a horror story of how ruthlessly companies behaved with their staff. Much gutter water has flown through Mithi since then and I have witnessed many more horror stories of various other kinds. But the story always comes back to me on Labour Day. And this year another example of cruelty to an employee has brought that memory flooding back.

Those were the times when software companies were just about beginning to make their presence felt but were not recruiting in large numbers. Most employment was generated by Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs). Trade Unionism was past the heydays of Datta Samant in the 80s, but still strong enough. To put it in cricketing terms, they were like the Sachin Tendulkars/Ricky Pontings/Adam Gilchrists of today, respected but not feared. PSU banks had started to retrench employees by offering Voluntary Retirement Schemes (VRS) packages on the back of increased ‘computerisation’. Winter was coming.

I met up with a friend’s cousin who worked with a foreign company which was recently taken over by another foreign company. The culture in his new organisation was very different and far more Indian (read mean and stingy) than his original employer. Cost- cutting was etched in their DNA, not unlike the defeatist attitude prevalent in the Pune Warriors team. The original employer, on the other hand, was throw back to the Raj (the Brit one, and not the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena) era, laid back and relaxed.

The cousin was a part of the clerical staff and he was ‘offered’ a VRS package by the new employer. He was nowhere close to retirement and also part of the Union. He refused to accept the package. For the next year or so he was made to suffer. It wasn’t overt intimidation but slow ‘mental disintegration’. A group of around 50 such ‘errant’ employees were transferred from their original jobs to admin and called to work at a large industrial space with some wooden benches. They were not given any work but were expected to come and sit in ‘office’ from 10 to 17:30 every day, with a half hour lunch break. They were not allowed to bring newspapers or any other reading material to office. They were not allowed to interact with each other. Just imagine the plight of a person who has to sit on a bench (literally) and do nothing, absolutely nothing for the entire day. It was almost like prison. Most people did take that ‘voluntary’ retirement after some time. The cousin succumbed as well.

Cut to the present and we have a guy who isn’t even unwanted by his employer. Actually he was recruited amongst major fanfare, paid obscene amount of money and was a figure of envy for his peers. But he is going through a similar experience of the cousin. He has precious little to do; just goes to work and then sits on a bench. I can imagine what the poor chap must be undergoing.

I fully sympathise with many foreign players in general and Glenn Maxwell in particular for the mental agony they are suffering.

Happy Labour Day, all!

(Rahul Namjoshi, an utter failure as an MBA, has no published novel to boast of and hence trying the next best thing – blogging. There, too, the results there aren’t too encouraging. Rahul pens his thoughts on the game in a blog called “Not Cricket”)