A 2015 video of Ratan Tata, Chairman Emeritus of Tata Sons has surfaced again. In the video, Mr Tata is recounting the time he confronted a gangster who was targeting Tata Motors.
The video was originally shared by Columbia Business School on their YouTube channel. The veteran industrialist shared that the incident happened in the early 1980s when he was the chairman of Tata Sons, he revealed that a gangster was trying to extort money from Tata Motors.
“15 days after I became the chairman, we had a huge union eruption in Tata Motors,” Ratan Tata said, “There was an outsider, a gangster, who decided there was a considerable amount of wealth in our union and wanted to take over control of that. He had about 200 followers- disruptive, violent, and intimidating followers — and the rest of the 4,000 people in that plant were uninterested.”
Mr Tata admitted that the company took its workers’ union for granted at the time, therefore the workers were excited to see what the violence would get them.
Watch the video here:
Mr Tata said he then decided to confront the gangster instead of giving in to his pressure. “People felt we should appease him, get him out of the way, but I was of the view that we could never do that….the police were in his pocket…he demoralised the management with his intimidation tactics.”
To exert dominance, the gangster called for a strike, causing workers at the Tata Motors plant to cease their operations out of fear for their safety, he shared.
The former Tata Group chairman said he knew if he gave in, it would never end. “…I knew he would take over everything and run us like a gangster unit…I continued to confront him and he called a strike, stopping the plant’s operations…the workers were afraid of coming back for fear of their families.”
He then stayed at the plant for days to encourage the workers to resume their duties and restart production. “I would never have done it any other way,” he said.
Mr Tata’s perseverance ultimately led to the gangster being caught.
This incident became a turning point in labour relations at Tata Motors.