TATA Corus Job Losses – is this the Indian way?

In my book I comment on how in the run up to their acquisition of Corus, the TATA’s faced an absolute grilling from several quarters regarding their ambitions for the steelmaker, which today has announced job lay-offs for 1,700 staff in Teeside. Naturally, the unions were worried about the intentions of a firm that they’d probably never heard of. Sensing their discomfort, the firm put in place a programme of briefings in which their iconic CEO – Ratan Tata actually went and met with groups of people, including Parliamentarians, from the regions that Corus employed people.

At one such briefing, he made the point, which was well taken, that Indian firms don’t have it in their DNA to be vultures or become asset strippers. He looked them in the eye and said that not only were they buying Corus for sound strategic reasons but that he assured them that Corus would create more jobs, as he intended to take the firm forward. Sadly, not even he had predicted the global downturn and the circumstances behind this decision need to be presented so that no one jumps to any other conclusion than that the TATA’s tried everything to minimise losses, such as:

  • My sources tell me that the decision has been pending for over 8 months, and that the number of losses is smaller than what could’ve been the case.
  • The long term strategic partners, who pulled out, will be taken to court for failing to stick to their original commitments.
  • And finally, that there’s been an ongoing dialogue about the situation with all stakeholders for some time, so this comes as no surprise.

My reason for writing this blog is not to defend TATA, but to highlight that I wrote my book as a result of realising that the western markets need to know more about Indian firms who are increasingly making acquisitions in Europe & America, as a result of their improved understanding of thes histories and cultures of such people and firms, I hope they’ll be better armed to combat the negative headlines that often lead the news agenda as a result of my book India Inc. How India’s Top Ten Entrepreneurs are Winning Globally.

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