Air India pilot's agitation enters second day; three flights cancelled

The pilots have been protesting against rescheduling of Boeing 787 Dreamliner training. However, civil aviation minister Ajit Singh told the striking pilots that they should first decide what they want -- either keep the national carrier afloat or shut it down

New Delhi: Three international flights of Air India were cancelled from the capital and Mumbai as the agitation by a section of pilots entered the second day Wednesday, reports PTI.

"Two flights from Delhi to Singapore (AI-380) and to New York (AI-101), while one from Mumbai to Newark (AI-191) are cancelled today. All other international flights are operating as we have made a contingency plan with the available pilots," an Air India spokesperson said.

Around 200 Air India pilots owing allegiance to Indian Pilots Guild (IPG) had reported sick on Tuesday resulting in cancellation of at least 13 international flights. The pilots have been protesting against rescheduling of Boeing 787 Dreamliner training.

Worst affected were the passengers, who alleged that they were not being informed about the cancellation of their flights in advance. They also alleged the airline staff were not cooperating nor they were providing any information about their flight or any alternate flights.

Some of the passengers, who checked-in their luggage and also got their boarding passes had to wait for hours to get back their luggage.

Cracking the whip on Tuesday, Air India management sacked 10 agitating pilots and derecognised their union.

Indian Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh termed the strike as illegal and said the government can also shut the airline. He told the striking pilots that they should first decide what they want -- either keep the national carrier afloat or shut it down. "We cannot keep pouring money to keep Air India afloat," Mr Singh said.

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M&M Scorpio unit at Nasik plant gutted in fire

The fire broke out in the Scorpio unit of the company, early morning on Wednesday and was brought under control with the help of 25 fire tenders later

Nashik: A major fire broke out at the Satpur plant of Mahindra and Mahindra Ltd (M&M) early this morning, fire brigade officials said.

According to a PTI report, the fire broke out in the Scorpio unit of the company, early morning, which was brought under control with the help of 25 fire tenders of the Nashik Municipal Corporation as well as the company's own fire fighting unit. Nobody was injured in the incident, they said.

"The Scorpio plant of the company was gutted in fire. But we do not know the reason behind the fire as yet. We are also yet to estimate the exact amount of loss," Nachiket Kulkarni, Head M&M's automobile plant, told reporters.

Senior General Manager (Personnel) Udaykumar Vaidya said that spare parts of the company's popular SUV-- Scorpio and of other vehicles were kept at the logistics department, besides some cardboard and plastic material. "The company is finding out the reason behind the incident," he said.

In a regulatory filing, M&M said a fire broke out in one of the storage areas pertaining to manufacturing of Scorpio/Xylo TCF lines of Nasik plant. "The fire has been confined to this specific area. There has been no casualty. As a safety measure, the operations of the Plant have been suspended in the first shift and the cause and extent of damage is being ascertained. The production loss in the first shift is estimated to be around 250 vehicles. The Plant assets are adequately covered by insurance. The Management expects to restart the Bolero & Verito lines fully and the Scorpio line partially, from the second shift onwards," it added.

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Personal Finance Exclusive
Are you hiring correctly? -2

Team dynamics play a vital role and therefore need to be considered while hiring. Many firms are taking the right steps by conducting personality assessments to gauge the ability of a hire to work well in teams

Despite all precautions, there is no way to tell accurately whether a new recruit will be able to perform. It is a gamble. To reiterate, the performance delivery of an employee is dependent on so many factors-most important being empowering an employee to take decisions. Delineating the job responsibilities is also a sensitive process. If it is far too complex, it may scare the wits out of the prospects. It is also important to link the job responsibilities with the business goals.
 
Team dynamics play a vital role and therefore need to be considered while hiring. Often, employees who have been in the organisation (where the entrepreneur is at the helm of the affairs for a long time) resist change and can prove to be a bane when the firm's business model changes. Their emotional attachment to the past (and the entrepreneur) will make it impossible for the organisation to move ahead for executing its strategy. This is mostly the case in those organisations that are not process-driven. Such employees may no longer fit in the new scheme of things. The matter needs to be handled with utmost sensitivity. Such employees will have to be retrained. Expectations from them have to be realistic.
 
Candidates are smart nowadays. They are well-informed (thanks to the Internet and social media) and so they use all their ingenuity to overstress their strengths and underplay their weaknesses. Candidates with king-sized egos can find it a bit of a challenge to settle quickly in a new organization. Mr Surendran, a consultant who worked for Personal Search Services, says that candidates who have worked in multinational firms find it difficult to adjust and adapt to the organizational climate in start-ups and Indian firms.
 
Many firms are taking the right steps by conducting personality assessments to gauge the ability of a hire to work well in teams. No employee can afford to bad mouth his present organization in front of his potential employers. However, recruiters can seek honest feedback from candidates about the real reason for leaving. Candidates are well-advised to give honest opinion that is constructive and subtle. For instance-instead of saying that the current organization does not reward talent, a candidate can say that the organization has a policy of not discriminating between performers and non-performers.
 
The values in an organization are greatly dependent on the CEO and his outlook (this is more so, if it is a sole proprietorship firm). Hiring candidates who can meet the long term goals of the organization is a good strategy. If one is focused too much on hiring candidates with similar skill sets, then this may not always lead to a successful outcome. Placing more emphasis on the future is also a step in the right direction. Too many recruiters focus on what the candidate has done in the past. Very few look at what the candidate can deliver in the future.
 
In India, there is a tendency for recruiters/organizations to look down upon people who voluntarily apply to an organization. Recruiting is an on-going process. Even if there is no vacancy, firms can preserve resumes and source them when there is a potential opportunity. The response given to such candidates says a lot about the mindset of the top teams.
 
Use of social media, tapping the information in journals and magazines, sourcing candidates from the membership details of professional organizations, using industry trade shows to spot talent-these are some of the innovative hiring techniques used by some organizations. What a candidate does after office hours is also gaining credence as part of the recruitment process. The locations for conducting an interview are also changing. The days of an intimidating interview panel asking questions to a candidate sitting across the table are over. Informal interviews in coffee shops and restaurants are in. This is a welcome change for sure.
 
Let's end with an interesting story of mindless hiring process that got corrected on the spot. A past president of a Tata Group firm used to tell interviewers "be friendly with candidates and ask relevant questions". He told an instance where as an observer during an interview, he noticed that the interviewer was asking the candidates questions which were not relevant. The interviewer continued to frame some more similar questions that bordered on the absurd. At that time, the president politely asked the candidate to wait outside and informed him that he will be called back. Then he asked the interviewer, "will you please give me the answers that you put to the candidate?"
 
The interviewer was shocked. He did not expect such interruption from president but mumbled "sorry sir". The president patted him and told him to refine his interviewing skills by preparing relevant questions and then called the candidate inside. The reframed questions elicited correct answers and the candidate was selected and became one of the top executives in the company. In this episode, the guidance of the president is to be appreciated.
 
In another instance, a group of supervisors and a HR person were interviewing candidates for the post of fitter, turners and machinists.  The supervisors were happy with the candidates whose basic knowledge was sufficient to get work out of them. But the HR person suddenly asked "who is the prime minister of Sri Lanka?" which baffled the works manager who was observing the procedure. He got up and courteously called the HR person outside the room and told him "If the candidate is so much knowledgeable to know politics and know names of presidents and prime ministers, he could not have stopped from ITI course-the crowd in ITI stream is lower middle class who cannot afford a newspaper. He further said "Am I right in suggesting that to this type of candidates, we will stop short of asking basic technical questions?" The HR person acknowledged the guidance of the works manager.

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