Emergence and Formation of Trade Unions in India

In this article we will discuss Emergence and Formation of Trade Unions in India

In this article, we will discuss Emergence and Formation of Trade Unions in India (Part-1). So, let’s get started.

Emergence and Growth of Trade Unions:

  • Cause of Emergence: The trade unions emerged in India after World War I. The main factors that led to the emergence of trade unions include:
  • Rising prices of essential commodities.
  • Decline in the real wages of workers.
  • Increase in the demand for the industrial products resulting in the expansion of Indian industries.
  • Gandhi’s call for the Non-Cooperation Movement.
  • The Russian Revolution.

Formation of Trade Unions:

  • The Madras Labour Union, formed in April 1918, is generally considered to be the first trade union in India.
  • B.P. Wadia, a nationalist leader and an associate of Annie Besant, was instrumental for its organisation.
  • The Textile Labour Association, also known as Majur Mahajan Sangh, was established in Ahmedabad in 1920.
  • The union was formed following the agitation of mill workers of Ahmedabad demanding for a bonus to compensate for the rise in prices.
  • This union worked along Gandhian lines and became very strong over the years.

All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC):

  • A New Edge to the Workers’ Movement: The most important development in the workers’ movement was the formation of All-India Trade Union Congress under the leadership of Bal Gangadhar Tilak and Lala Lajpat Rai.
  • Since then the working class movement became strong and by 1930 onwards, an ideological tone was added to the movement.
  • Cause of Formation: Many people connected with labour realised that there was a need for a central organisation of labour to coordinate the works of the trade unions all over India.
  • The formation of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) in 1919 acted as a catalyst for it.
  • The members selected from AITUC represented the Indian Labour at the ILO.
  • Leaders Involved: Bal Gangadhar Tilak, N.M.Joshi, B.P.Wadia, Diwan Chamanlall, Lala Lajpat Rai and Joseph Baptista were the main leaders behind the formation of AITUC.
  • Lala Lajpat Rai became the first president of the AITUC and Joseph Baptista its vice president.
  • Lajpat Rai was the first to link capitalism with imperialism: “imperialism and militarism are the twin children of capitalism”.
  • Ideology of AITUC: In the beginning, the AITUC was influenced by social democratic ideas of the British Labour Party.
  • The Gandhian philosophy of non-violence, trusteeship and class-collaboration had great influence on AITUC.

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