V.G. Gopal was an undisputed international Trade Union leader

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14th October is 25th death anniversary of V. G. Gopal

By MC Madhukar

On this day (14th October), 1993, V. G. Gopal, President Tata Workers Union was killed by unknown assailants in the morning hour in Tata Worker’s Union premises in Bistupur. This sad news spread like wild fire in the town and people were sad and shocked to hear this unexpected sad news.

V.G. Gopal was undisputed Trade Union international leader besides being the President of Tata Worker’s Union, Jamshedpur and other Unions. He was highly regarded by all on the occasion of his birth anniversary every year on 20th December persons from every walk of life of Jamshedpur used to visit his residence in thousands and used to garland him to express happiness. Gopal Babu’s house used to remain jam packed from Tisco Employees and others. A big room of his residence used to fill up upto roof by garlands, bouquets etc. All people heartily cheered him. This was a unique scene. Such birthday celebration can’t be seen now in our Jamshedpur.

Althrough Gopal babu has numerous qualities. But I mention here a few. I was elected as Executives Committee Member from my SMS3 Dept. in 1980 shortly executive committee meeting was held in union hall. Gopal Babu was presiding some committee members got opportunity to speak in the meeting. I was also one. I noticed Gopal Baby was cheering me from dia by gently clapping.

After the meeting was over, in the way I requested Gopal Babu to give me a time to apprise him some of my departmental problems. He told me tomorrow is Sunday and so the union will remain closed. You come to meet me on my residence at 8:00 A.M. I was extremely happy. I had morning duty. I took gatepass and reached his residence on time. Gopal Babu was discussing with some people in his drawing hall. I was called to meet him in the drawing room I immediately rushed to the room. I was wearing company boot and my shirt was wet due to the heat of the furnace of SMS3. Unknowingly I entered the room without taking off my boot outside. The result was floor Kalin was deeply marked with the coal tar of my company boot. People shouted immediately what you are doing you are spoiling the entire room and Kalin from your boot, why did not you kept it outside. I also noticed my mistake. The entire floor had become dirty. I became nervous. I thought Gopal Babu would be angry and my work wouldn’t be done. But immediately Gopal Babu interrupted. Does not matter. You take off your boot here in the drawing room and sit with the ease on the chair.

He told others sitting in the room. This boot and coal tar with it is the reality of the Tata Company I am very happy that my committee member works in the company and also does workers works and welfare. After I become ease on chair, he asked me about my problems. I told him at present I have three important jobs to be done because their solution is a prestige issue for me. He immediately interrupted and told people in the room, look I have a committee member who has prestige but I have no prestige atall. Every now and then I face humiliation. Very good I will have to do all your jobs to protect your prestige. I was totally humiliated. But I told him what all I wanted to say him and he noted down in his personal diary and assured me that the job will be done within a week. Being satisfied I again rushed to my department and told my department fellows about the first meeting with Gopal Babu and they all exclaimed astonishing smile. Within a week Gopal Babu extensively talked to the management and all my three jobs got done. One problem was related to the company policy it was never done before that too was solved and from this all employees started to get this facility. All the three persons whose problems were solved were amazed and duly thanked me. Due to this my image improved magically in the Department. This is only the tip of iceberg of Gopal Babu’s personality and kind heart. There are numerous examples like this. This is why he was richly honoured by the employees and all had faith in him.

Every year on 3rd March Founder’s Day Celebration J.R.D. Tata he usually used to visit Jamshedpur and cheered the gathering of founder’s day celebration. The next day in the morning he used to visit Tata Workers Union premises. Gopal Babu very interestingly used to accompany him in the union. Tata Saheb interacted with Union Office bearers. In one of such visit JRD asked Gopal Babu, the union is very good and running well now but what will happen in your absence. Gopal Babu immediately told him we have developed a Work Culture for this and there will be no dearth of Leadership. The Union will always run amicably. Tata Saheb embraced Gopal Babu with both hands and exclaimed you are great Mr. Gopal, you live today and tomorrow.

Gopal Babu firmly believed that the prospect of the company and its well being is prime so that employees can survive happily.

In departmental J.D.C. Mr. Russy Mody and Mr. V. G. Gopal used to remain on dia in presence of huge gathering. Once Mody Saheb suggested Gopal Babu that every year the Chairman and Vice-Chariman of JDC is exchanged so why not in the top Union and top management one year you remain M.D. of the Company and I will be Union President. This will give an appropriate message of working together. All audience used to cheer.

When Dr. J. J. Irani became M.D. Tata Steel, he also has very good relation with Gopal Babu and Union as a whole.

Gopal Babu was a towering personality and it is very difficult to fill the gap created by his sudden demise. However, in the present Union President I find some good similarity. God knows the future Gopal Babu, we all really miss you always but I am sure even from the heaven you must be blessing us with special kindness to union and management.

We all give you heartfelt condolences on your 25th death anniversary.

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