Bharat Petroleum: Long-Term Wage Settlement
In May 2012, the director of human resources at Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited was involved in negotiating a long-term collective agreement between management and the unions at the large public-sector oil corporation in India. The negotiations had begun in 2009 and were stalled largely because of wage issues. Due to time-bound promotions and open-ended pay ranges, workers' salaries had spiralled out of control. When economic conditions changed from an administered price mechanism with government subsidies to one in which the corporation was expected to compete with national and multinational private-sector companies, the issue of high operating costs had to be addressed. After 13 rounds of discussions, there was still no agreement. The management team needed to decide which of the issues originally identified were essential for resolution and which were only desirable. The team also had to decide how to approach the negotiation in order to secure agreement from the unions. Zubin R. Mulla is affiliated with Tata Institute of Social Sciences.