So finally the mystery of Anil Ambani’s helicopter sabotage is solved. The press is reporting that two workmen, Uday Warerkar and Palraj Thevar are alleged to have sabotaged the chopper. Ironically it was their lack of competence that provided the clue.
Why did they do it? The press report says it was due to Union-Management disputes.
Such industrial disputes have often led to sabotage but in the instant case it was more serious, firstly because it could have led to an accident involving Anil Ambani and secondly, the damage to a helicopter is very costly sometimes completely putting it out of service for a long time. Air safety rules are very stringent.
Long ago a company manufacturing lifts faced serious problems as its lifts in other establishments got sabotaged. Such actions never win public opinion.
One of the reasons for sabotage is the exploitation of gullible workers at the hands of some ‘outsiders’. They misguide the workers who give vent to their anger. Presence of outsiders is reassuring to them as they think that the outsider can ‘take care’ of police. This, they discover, is not true.
I do not know what the role of the outsiders was in the present case but I would not be surprised if the police discover it.
At the same time, what is forgotten is the failure of the management of the company to create a culture that puts safety and security first. Organisations that render service are very vulnerable to such sabotage and the antidote is not surveillance but a work ethic that prevents sabotage. A look at the way safety and security is managed in oil refineries will tell us how it can be managed.