The Labour Monthly
Source: The Labour Monthly, Vol. 8, March 1926, No. 3, p. 187 (415 words)
Transcriptionp: Ted Crawford
HTML Markup: Brian Reid
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The sixth annual session of the All-India Trade Union Congress was held in Madras on January 9-10. Over a hundred delegates were present, representing nearly seventy trade unions. In the absence of the Rev. C. F. Andrews, the Congress was presided over by Mr. V. V. Giri, LL.B., the head of the Bengal-Nagpur Railway Union. In his address he reviewed the history of the chief trade unions in India and uttered a warning against strike action. He remarked:—
It must be remembered that to organise a strike unlimited resources in money and sincere workers to lead are absolutely necessary. The capitalist can generally wait for a comparatively longer time than the labourer and break a strike.
Mr. Giri commented on the importance of organising agricultural labour and commended the efforts made by some “enlightened young men” to form educational associations among the ryots. He pointed out:—
These organisations are not against the landed interests of the landlords in any form, and this should be made abundantly clear. If they are properly organised, they will form a happy medium in bringing about peace and harmony to both the landlord and tenant.
These two extracts are significant of the tone of the Congress. Even the capitalist newspaper, the Bombay Chronicle, in a leading article on the Congress, pointed out the need for more energetic work on the part of leaders of Indian Labour in organising trade unions.
Following in the path of the representatives of Indian capitalism, the Congress passed a resolution demanding immediate granting of Dominion Status for India within the British Empire. A resolution was passed for special representation of labour on Legislative Councils, but not apparently for universal suffrage or even the extension of the franchise.
Other resolutions called for (1) establishment of the eight-hour day, (2) unemployment and health insurance, (3) maternity benefits, (4) legal abolition of the system of fining workers, (5) establishment of labour exchanges, (6) establishment by law of arbitration and conciliation boards.
A special resolution dealt with the treatment of Indians in South Africa, including an appeal to the International Labour Movement to assist in preventing the Union Government from depriving Indians in Natal of their rights.
Messages of greeting were read from the British Trades Union Congress, the British Minority Movement, the Central Council of the Russian Trade Unions and from the R.I.L.O., but the only British labour representatives present were Major Graham Pole and Councillor Mellan of Glasgow, in an unofficial capacity.