'Mental harassment' claims at L&T-Chiyoda

Vol 25, PW 10 (21 Apr 22) People & Policy

Nobody likes to be treated like a slave.

That might seem obvious, yet former employees of engineering and design consultancy L&T Chiyoda (LTC) felt they needed to remind management of that in an anonymous email alleging "mental harassment." Dated April 6 (2022), the email provides a list of names in alphabetical order of purported ex-employees who have circulated the email to the company's "process department, process management, HR management and top management."

This report could not independently verify the names listed as signatories to the email, and L&T did not respond to a detailed email for comment. LTC was set up in 1994 as a JV between Mumbai-based L&T and Japan's Chiyoda Corporation and employs around 1000 people, more than a third of whom work in the process department.

The unsigned email tells the company's Japanese and Indian bosses that "a service never means slavery, an employee is not a slave, and nobody cannot (sic) treat him/her unethically at the workplace." Worse, the email alleges the LTC process department is a "harassment centre" and further claims that 70 employees have quit the department within 18 months to April (2022).

Other grievances listed in the anonymous email allege that LTC employees work overtime without extra pay. New employees, it says, "get shocked" on the first day at the job when they find the clock-in time is at 8.40am but there is no fixed time for going home even though on paper it is 5.40pm.

The e-mail adds that staff in engineering companies typically work for 160 hours/month or 40 hours/week with Saturdays and Sundays off. But that at LTC, the "normal minimum (working) hours" are 180-200/month.

LTC employees, claims the sender, are expected to work up to 12 hours a day from Monday to Saturday. Employees reluctant to work long hours are "threatened" to either stay or quit, alleges the email.

Instead of paying for extra work hours, claims the email, bosses hand out snacks worth Rs20. LTC's website says: "By virtue of being a JV company, LTC has inculcated in itself the values and robustness of L&T and the efficient systems and procedures of Chiyoda Corporation Japan."