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A DILEMMA case study solution (Code: c15)

A DILEMMA case study solution
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I am a supervisor at a modern soap factory built about ten years ago at Ghaziabad, which is a fast developing town in Uttar Pradesh and lies about 18 miles away from Delhi, the capital city The factory is situated in beautiful and what one might call rural surroundings. The factory is itself surrounded buy cultivable land and many of the factory workers own ancestral property here. The pattern of living of the workers, in most cases, conforms to the joint family system.

I feel that production at our factory has never come up to management's expectations for several reasons. One of these is heavy absenteeism, for during the agricultural season the factory workers stay at home to cultivate their own land. Since the worker is also a farmer, there is no dearth of food, and his factory job only provides him with liquid cash. Because he does not depend upon factory wages alone, the factory worker takes things easy, which results in a situation of chronic absenteeism in the factory. About six years ago, within the same factory compound, a fruit processing unit was also added by the company. The jobs in this unit are seasonal ; that is, only during the fruit-growing season it does work to its full capacity.

The unit employs 22 workers. All of them are given semi-skilled grade E jobs. During the season, besides the bottling of fruit products, fruit juices are also filled in wooden casks and stored up, so that in lean periods, they could be bottled. Some of the jobs done in the unit are peeling fruit, extracting juice, boiling juice and other ingredients into syrups or jams, bottling, capping, labelling, storing, and keeping the premises clean. During the lean period the major portion of all these jobs come to an end and therefore part of the work-force is transferred to the soap plant and allied sections, to make good labour shortages which occur there. However, a small portion of workers who remain in the fruit-processing plant are given light jobs, such as keeping the premises clean, rolling the barrels, and do on. The only exceptions are the two workers who are engaged in filling and capping bottles. They have an obvious job title : Bottle Filler and Capper. All workers in the fruit-processing unit are permanent employees.

When these two workers—Bottle Filler and Capper —see others having an easy time they become disgruntled and demand higher wages, or that others do the filling and capping jobs as well. They cannot be given higher grades because in the soap factory people doing almost similar jobs are in E grade and they too would then claim higher grades. The other workers cannot be made to do these jobs because production would suffer. The bottle filler and capper have done the job for years and have attained great speed in doing it. Others cannot match that speed: I first cajoled those two workers and also counselled them but without success. Finally, I threatened them with punitive action. This has only resulted in a `go slow' response from them. I am faced with a dilemma. I am convinced that so far as my unit is concerned these two workmen's demands are just and fair since the workload on them is definitely more than on the others in the unit and also their jobs are more skilled than that of the rest of the workers there However, in the context of the entire factory, their demands cannot be conceded.


1. What is the main problem in this case ?

2. What are your views about the problem as the supervisor ?

3. What would have been your way of handling the problem as supervisor and as part of the management ? Explain the possible consequences of the action taken to restore productivity in the food processing unit.

4. Suggest possible measures to resolve the major problem faced by the organization.

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