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“Is That Your Definition Of Ethics,” Ratan Tata Questions Companies That Lay Off Long-Serving Employees

Tata said, “The way migrant labourers were left to fend for themselves with no work, food, place to stay, speaks volumes on lack of business ethics”

NEW DELHI| Chairman of Tata Trusts, Ratan Tata said businesses will need to show sensitivity to all stakeholders and not shareholders to survive post-COVID-19. In an interaction with your story, the ace industrialist and philanthropist said Layoffs amid the pandemic was a knee-jerk reaction and shows lack of empathy among the top leadership.

Tata while interaction with the website, Your Story, on Thursday, said, “Accept that you have to change in terms of what you consider is fair and necessary in order to survive. One cannot continue to do business in certain ways and one won’t survive if you are not sensitive to all your stakeholders. Working from home is one solution. Laying-off people will not help you solve your problems as you have the responsibility to those employees.”

Calling coronavirus outbreaks an unprecedented crisis, Tata said that it has come at a time when the world was already grappling with the economic slowdown, and stalemate between the world’s largest economies like US-China, India-China.

He also touched upon the migrant crisis which plagued India’s labour force during April and May when the country was under a strict lockdown to curb the spread of the pandemic.

The way migrant labourers were left to fend for themselves with no work, food, place to stay, speaks volumes on lack of business ethics, he said.

Tata said, “These are the people who have served you all these years. Is that your definition of ethics if you treat your labour force that way. Government and ethical business have stepped in to help them.”

Tata said that if there ever was another crisis like COVID-19, businesses would be in a better position to tackle it.

He said, “I hope we never have another case, but if we do, I think companies will react much faster in the right way, rather than just letting people go.”

It is worth mentioning that Tata Group has not fired any staff, while several Indian companies have cut the workforce because of lack of cash flow after the countrywide lockdown. However, the salt-to-software conglomerate has slashed salaries of its top management by up to 20 per cent. Many Tata Group firms, including its hotels, airlines, auto business, and financial services are badly hit in the pandemic-induced slowdown but have not fired employees to date.

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