The Growth and Development of the Trade Union Movement Essay

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Introduction 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. The trade union movement on the other hand, started after 1918, when the workers formed their associations to improve their conditions. It is, thus, a part of the ‘labour movement’, which is a much wide 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.

The setting up of large-scale industrial units, created conditions 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. It was this labour protest on an organized scale, through the support of some philanthropic personalities, that organized labour unions came to be formed. Growth and Development of the Trade Union Movement The growth and development of. he labour – movement , and for that part of the trade unions,in India, can be divided into following periods, each of them revealing different tendencies that mark it from others. SOCIAL WELFARE PERIOD (1875 TO 1918) The development of industries led to large-scale production on the one hand and 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. It was in 1890 that one Mr. N. M.

Lokhande, himself a worker, organized a meeting of 10,000 textile workers for a very simple demand of weekly holiday and it was granted to textile workers in Mumbai. Encouraged by this success, Bombay Mill hands Association was formed in 1890 by N. M. Lokhande. However , it was only after the First World War that the trade unionism took firm roots in Indian soil. Early Trade Union Period (1918-1924) The year 1918 was an important one for the Indian trade union 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 reasonable wages for which purpose they united to take resort to collective action. In 1920, the All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC) was set up to represent the interest of workers and also to co-ordinate the activities of labour organization in the country. The non-co-operative movement of Gandhiji during 1920-21 and his support to the demands of industrial labour also greatly influenced the working class movement Left-Wing Unionism Period (1924-1934)

In 1924, a violent and long-drawn-out strike by unions led to the arrest, prosecution, conviction and imprisonment of many communist leaders. AITUC emerged as’ the sole representative of the Indian working class. In 1926, the Trade Union Act was passed which was a landmark in the history of trade union movement in the country. By 1926-27, workers and peasants’ parties sprang up in 1928: various local units of these parties were united into an All-India Workers’ and Peasants’ Party.

Its formation gave an impetus to the left influence in the working class movement and many trade unions opted for left wing leadership Trade Union’s Unity Period (1935-1938) In mid-thirties the state of divided labour movement was natural thought undesirable and 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 ‘a platform of 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 employment. The unity efforts were synchronized by a popular upheaval as evidenced by the 1937 general elections. The Indian National Congress approached the working class with the pledge that it would endeavour: “To secure to the industrial workers a decent standard of living, with international standards, suitable machinery for the settlement of disputes between employers and workmen. As a result of this alluring manifesto, the Congress Government assumed charge in seven states and a big change occurred.

There was a new upsurge of industrial unrest culminating in big strikes. In. 1937, there were 379 strikes, which involved 6. 47 lakh workers Second World War Period (1939-1945) The Second World War, which broke out in September 1939, created new strains in the united trade union 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 as the Indian Federation of Labour.

The Post-Independence Period(From 1947 to-date)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. The HMS was launched ostensibly with a view to “keep 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. In 1958, the Hind Mazdoor Sabha and the United Trade Union Congress reached an agreement to create a joint front against the AITUC which was working inroads in their membership. Present Scenario of the Trade Union Movement The Indian trade unions have come to stay now not as ad strike committees but as permanent features of the industrial 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.

The unions have achieved a remarkable status where’ their voices are heard by the Government and the 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. The unions have created for them a platform to air their views; policies and ideologies both at the state level and national level in the Standing Labour Committee and the, Indian Labour Conference

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