From Confrontation to Collaboration: The Turnaround of a Unionized Factory

Beverage Manufacturing Unit in East India

The Kolkata unit of the beverage manufacturer was in trouble due to IR issues and that often resulted in inconsistent performance of the unit. Having tried various approaches to disciplining the unionized workmen the company decided to try once with the collaboration approach through Self-Managed Teams (SMT). The program was launched in early 2003

After the initial diagnostic study few behavioural training programs around the theme of “mindset change” was rolled out; simultaneously few dialogue sessions with external union leader ensured buy-in of the union body for this program; the most influential people among the workmen were taken to some of the factories where SMT was practiced (seeing is believing) – all of these preparations led to successful launch of SMTs in mid-2003.

With a clearly defined roadmap to introducing various SMT pillars we could generate high-energy and create a positive momentum among the large workforce (incl. the contract workmen). The line productivity levels moved-up, customer complaints began to flatten, quality ranking improved, teams began to understand the manufacturing cost working and contributed to cost optimization in many areas.

The peak sales period of 2004 (Feb to Jun) saw a remarkable results that the plant never produced before. From there the transformation journey continued despite the change in leadership.