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All of the organized activity of wage-earners to better their own wageconditions their own conditions either immediately or in the more or less distant future.´ future. Labour movement implies in some degree, a community of outlook, it is an organization, or rather many forms of organizations based upon the sense of common status and a common need for mutual help. help. A trade union is an essential basis of a labour movement for without cannot exist, because trade unions are the principal schools in which the workers learn the lesson of self-reliance selfand solidarity. solidarity. The trade union movement on the other hand, started after 1918, 1918, when the workers formed their associations to improve their conditions. It is, thus, a part of the µlabour movement¶, conditions. which is a much wide term. term.
Why the Trade Union Movement?
The main elements in the development of trade unions of workers in every country have been more or less the same. same. The setting up of large-scale industrial units, created largeconditions of widespread use of machinery, new lines of production, and brought about changes in working and living environment of workers, and concentration of industries in large towns. towns. It was this labour protest on an organized scale, through the support of some philanthropic personalities, that organized labour unions came to be formed. formed.
Growth and Development of the Trade Union Movement
Social Welfare Period (1875-1918) (1875-
The development of industries led to large-scale production on the one hand largeand social evils like employment and exploitation of women and child labour and the deplorable workable conditions, the government¶s attitude of complete indifference in respect of protection of labour from such evils, on the other. other. The memorial demanded: i. a complete day of rest every Saturday; ii. Half an demanded: Saturday; ii. hour¶s rest at noon; iii. Working hour no longer than 6.30 p.m., which should noon; iii. cease at sunset; iv. The payment to injured worker until they recovered sunset; iv. together with suitable compensation, if they are permanently disabled. disabled. According to Pandey, the important factors which have helped in the emergence and growth of the industrial labour movement are: are: While the economic hardships of workers have been present as a latent force, the impetus for the growth of labour movement is provided by the major political currents, particularly movement for national independence. independence. The failure of workers¶ initial attempts to organize led them to seek the help of philanthropists and social workers who generally came from classes higher in economic and social status. status.
Early Trade Union Period (1918-1924) (1918-
The year 1918 was an important one for the Indian trade union movement. movement. The industrial unrest that grew up as a result of grave economic difficulties created by war. The rising cost of living prompted the workers to demand war. reasonable wages for which purpose they united to take resort to collective action. action. The swaraj movement intensified the movement, widened the gulf between the employers and the employees and brought about a mass awakening among the workers demanding racial equality with their British employers. employers. The success of the Russian Revolution of 1917 created a revolutionary wave of ideas and a new self-respect and enlightenment, and added momentum to selfthe feeling of class-consciousness among laborers. classlaborers. The establishment of the I.L.O., in 1919, gave dignity to the working class 1919, and also an opportunity to send a delegation to the annual conference of this body. body. Immediately after the war many Indian soldiers in the British army were demobilized and into the labour market. market. The non-co-operative movement of Gandhiji during 1920-21 and his support non-co1920to the demands of industrial labour also greatly influenced the working class movement. movement.
LeftLeft-Wing Unionism Period (1924-1934) (1924-
In 1924, a violent and long-drawn-out strike by unions led to the arrest, prosecution, 1924, long-drawnconviction and imprisonment of many communist leaders. The rapid growth of the leaders. trade unionism was facilitated by several factors, such as: as: The growth of anti-imperialist national movement; antimovement; The brutal violence and repressive measures let loose by the British government, particularly the Jallianwala Bagh massacre, Rowlatt Act, indiscriminate arrests and imprisonment of national leaders and Satyagrahis, The phenomenal profits earned by the capitalists in the face of falling real wages during the post-war period post-
Trade Union¶s Unity Period (1935-1938) (1935-
In mid-thirties the state of divided labour movement was natural thought undesirable midand soon after the first split, attempts at trade union unity began to be made through the efforts of the Roy Group on the basis of µa platform of unity¶. unity¶. The division in the Indian labour movement was proving very costly for the Indian working class. In 1933, more than 50,000 workers in Bombay city were thrown out of class. 1933, 50, employment. employment. The unity efforts were synchronized by a popular upheaval as evidenced by the 1937 general elections. elections. According to Punekar, ³During the decade 1930-40 Indian trade unionism was a 1930divided house and the average industrial worker kept himself aloof from organized action. action.´
Second World War Period (1939-1945) (1939The Second World War, which broke out in September 1939, created new strains in 1939, the united trade union movement. movement. Hence, again a rift took place in 1941 and the Radicals left the AITUC with nearly 200 unions with a membership of 3, 00,000 and formed a new central federation known 00, as the Indian Federation of Labour. Labour. During war-time certain factors helped to enhance the status of the trade unions in warthe country, namely, The government as well as employers launched a number of labour welfare measures with a view to increase production of war materials and other essential goods and maintain high profits. profits. Recognition to trade unions was accorded by many employers. This fact gave amoral employers. strength to the unions. unions. Ban was placed on the strikes and lockouts, during war-time, under the Defence of warIndia Rules 81-A, and all disputes had to be referred to adjudication and their awards 81were enforced. enforced. A Tripartite Labour Conference was convened in 1942, for the first time, to provide a 1942, common platform for discussions and mutual understanding between the labour and the employers. employers.
The Post-Independence Period (From 1947 to-date) Postto-
As pointed out earlier, when attempts to restructure the AITUC failed, those believing in the aims and ideals other than those of the AITUC separated from the organization and established the Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC) in May, 1947. 1947. It reads: ³Congressmen in general and particularly those working in the field of reads: labour have found it very difficult to co-operate any longer with the AITUC which has corepeatedly been adopting a course completely disregarding, or even in opposition to the declared policy and advice of the Indian National Congress. Congress. The HMS was launched ostensibly with a view to ³keep the trade union movement free from domination by government and political parties and the methods to be employed were to be peaceful, legitimate and democratic.´ democratic. In 1958, the HMS and the UTUC reached an agreement to create a joint front against 1958, the AITUC which was working inroads in their membership. membership.
The post-war period has been made by the trade union movement in India. The most postIndia. important factors being: being: The constant inflow of outside and international influences; influences; The pressure of trade union rivalries, often based on political or ideological differences; differences; Government¶s Industrial adjudication machinery; machinery; Relations Policy with its provision for compulsory
The enactment of labour laws conferring special privileges on registered trade unions; unions; Desire of workers to unite for safeguarding their interest especially to face harder conditions for labour such as retrenchment, lay-off, etc.; layetc.; Attempts made by some employers to set up unions under their influence. influence.
Present Scenario of the Trade Union Movement
The Indian trade unions have come to stay now not as ad hoc bodies or strike committees but as permanent features of the industrial society. society. The unions succeeded in organizing Central Union Federations which help in the determination of principles, philosophy, ideology and purposes of the unions and give some sense of direction to the otherwise scattered and isolated large number of unions. unions. The unions have achieved a remarkable status where their voices are heard by the government and the employers; employers; they are consulted on matters pertaining to improvement in conditions of work health and safety, job security, wages, productivity, all matters concerning the interests of labour. labour. The trade union rivalries have become sharper in free India. India. The splitting up of unions and formation of new unions having sympathies with political parties have permitted unions operating at different levels. levels.
The Indian National Trade Union Congress
Origin: Origin: The INTUC came into existence on 4th May, 1948, as a result of the 1948, resolution passed on 17th November 1947, by the Central Board of the 17th 1947, Hindustan Mazdoor Sevak Sangh, which was a labour leader on the Gandhian Philosophy of Sarvodaya. Sarvodaya. Objectives: Objectives: The aims of the INTUC are: are:
to establish an order of society which is free from hindrances to an allallround development of its individual members, which fosters the growth of human personality in all its aspects, and which goes to the utmost limit in progressively eliminating social, political or economic exploitation and inequality, the profit motive in the economic activity and organization of society and the anti-social concentration of power in any form; antiform; to place industry under national ownership and control in a suitable form; form; to secure increasing association of workers in the administration of industry and their full participation in that control; control;
to organize society in such a manner as to ensure full employment and the best utilization of its manpower and other resources; resources; to promote social, civic and political interest of the working class; class; to establish just industrial relations; relations; to secure redressal of grievances, without stoppage of work, by means of negotiation, conciliation, and failing these, arbitration and adjudication; adjudication; to take other legislative methods, including strikes or any suitable form of satyagraha, where adjudication is not applied and settlement of disputes within reasonable time by arbitration is not available for the redress of grievances; grievances; to make necessary arrangement for the efficient conduct and satisfactory and speedy conclusion of authorized strikes or satyagraha; satyagraha; to foster the spirit of solidarity, service, brotherhood, cocooperation and mutual help among the workers; workers; to develop in the workers a sense of responsibility towards industry and the community; community; to raise the worker¶s standard of efficiency and discipline. discipline.
AllAll-India Trade Union Congress (AITUC)
Origin: Origin: It was established in 1920 as result of a resolution passed by the organized workers of Bombay and the delegates which met I a conference on 31st 31st October, 1920. 1920. Objectives: Objectives: The basic objectives of the AITUC are: are: to establish a socialist state in India; India; to socialize and nationalize means of production, distribution and exchange; exchange; to ameliorate the economic and social conditions of the working class; class; to watch, promote, and further the interests, rights, and privileges of the workers in all matters relating to their employment; employment; to secure and maintain for the workers the freedom of speech, freedom of press, freedom of association freedom of assembly, the right to strike, and the right to work and maintenance; maintenance; to co-ordinate the activities of the labour unions affiliated to the AITUC; coAITUC; to abolish political or economic community, race or religion; religion; advantage based on caste, creed,
to secure and maintain for the workers the right to strike. strike.
United Trade Union Congress (UTUC)
Origin: Origin: Some trade union leaders of the socialist bent met together December 1948 to form a new central organization of labour, called Hind Mazdoor Sabha. Sabha. Objectives: Objectives: The objectives of the UTUC are: are: to establish a socialist society in India; India; to establish a workers¶ and peasants¶ state in India; India; to nationalize and socialize the means of production, distribution and exchange; exchange; to safeguard and promote the interests, rights, and privileges to the workers in all matters, social, cultural, economic and political; political; to secure and maintain workers¶ freedom of speech, freedom of press, freedom of association, freedom of assembly, right to strike, right to work or maintenance and the right to social security; security; to bring about unity in the trade union movement. movement.
Bhartiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS)
Origin: Origin: This union has been the outcome of decision taken by the Jana Sangh in its Convention at Bhopal on 23rd July, 1954. 23rd 1954. Objectives: Objectives: to establish the Bhartiya order of classless society in which there shall be secured full employment; employment; to assist workers in organizing themselves in trade unions as medium of service to the motherland irrespective of faiths and political affinities; affinities; the right to strike; strike; to inculcate in the minds of the workers the spirit of service, co-operation coand dutifulness and develop in them a sense of responsibility towards the nation in general and the industry in particular. particular. The BMS is a productivity-oriented non-political trade union. Its ideological productivitynonunion. basis is the triple formula: formula: nationalize the labour; labour; labourise the industry; industry; industrialise the nation; nation;
National Front of Indian Trade Unions (NFITU)
Origin This union was founded in 1967, with the claim that ³this trade union of 1967, India is not controlled by any of the political party, employers or government. government.´ Objectives: Objectives: to organize and unite trade unions with the object of building up a National Central Organisation of trade unions, independent of political parties, employers and the government, to further the cause of labour and that of national solidarity security and defence of India, and to make the working people conscious of their right as well as of obligations in all spheres of life; life; to secure to members of trade unions full facilities of recognition and effective representation of interests of workers and to ensure for the working people fair conditions of life and service and progressively to raise their social, economic and cultural state and conditions; conditions; to help in every possible way member trade unions in their fight to raise real wages of the workers; workers; to endeavour to secure for members of affiliated trade unions adoption of progressive legislation for their welfare and to ensure the effective environment of the rights and interests of members of affiliated trade unions and for the working people in general. general.
Centre of Indian Trade Union (CITU)
This union was formed in 1970 when as a result of the rift in the AITUC, some members of the Communist party seceded. About the objectives of the CITU, its seceded. constitution says: says: The CITU believes that the exploitation of the working class can be ended only by socializing all means of production, distribution and exchange and establishing a socialist state, that is, it stands for the complete emancipation of the society from all exploitation. exploitation. The CITU fights against all encroachments on the economic and social rights of the workers and the enlargement of their rights and liberties including the right to strike, for winning, defending and extending the freedom of the democratic trade union movement. movement. In the fight for the immediate interest of the working class the CITU demands: (a) demands: nationalization of all foreign monopoly concerns who barbarously exploit the working class; class; (b) nationalization of all concerns owned by Indian monopolists and big industry who garner huge profits at the expenses of the workers, who exploit the people by pegging prices at a high level and who dictate the anti-labour and antiantiantipeople policies of the government. government. The CITU fights against the repressive policy of democratic and trade union movement; movement; the government towards the
Comparative Study of Four Original Central Organizations
Although there are as many as nine central labour organizations in the country, only four are of great importance: the INTUC, the AITUC, the BMS importance: and the UTUC. UTUC. Objectives: Objectives: The INTUC aims at the Sarvodaya ideal transformation of the existing social order. order. and stands for gradual
The AITUC aims at socializing and nationalizing all means of production, distribution and exchange as far as possible. possible. The INTUC, too, aims at placing industry under national ownership and control in a suitable form in order to reaslise the desired order of society. society. The securing and maintenance or workers¶ freedom of speech, freedom of association, freedom of assembly, freedom of the press etc., has been etc. mentioned in the constitutions of all organizations except the INTUC. INTUC.
The machinery for organization of labour is practically the same under all the four organizations. organizations. The Central Organisation itself is generally composed of a Delegates¶ Assembly, a General Council, and a Working Committee, with a division of responsibilities among them which is more or less the same in the case of all four organizations. organizations.
As regards the methods of attaining the desired objectives there are some valid differences. differences. To achieve the objectives, the INTUC urges the placing of industry under national ownership and control in suitable form and the full participation in its control. control. On the other hand, the AITUC also strives for socialization and nationalization of the means of production, distribution and exchange, but by more radical and violent means. means. The UTUC, which was created with the avowed purpose of liberating the labour movement of its political affiliations, is radical in nature, non-communist and antinonantiINTUC. INTUC.
As regards leadership, all the four organizations have their political affiliations, and the leadership, therefore, lies in the hands of the politicians, and not in those of the working class, which is yet illiterate and backward to wield any influence. influence. The AITUC is pro-communist. It is led by the Right CPI. Its attitude towards pro-communist. CPI. the government is not entirely hostile, but of course highly critical of the government. government. The UTUC is radical, non-communist and anti-INTUC. It is led by some nonanti-INTUC. independent trade union leaders, the Forward Block and the Revolutionary Socialist Party. Party. On the international level, the INTUC is affiliated to the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU) ± an organization mainly supported by the Anglo American block; while the AITUC is affiliated to the block; World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU), supported by the Communist block. block.