S. V. Deshpande
Source: The Labour Monthly, Vol. 12, March 1930, No. 3, pp. 187-189, (1,321 words)
Transcriptionp: Ted Crawford
HTML Markup: Brian Reid
Public Domain: Marxists Internet Archive (2009). You may freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit “Marxists Internet Archive” as your source.
The outstanding feature of the session of the All-India Trade Union Congress held at Nagpur at the end of November and beginning of December last year was the decision of a section of reformist leaders, on their defeat in the Executive Council of the T.U.C., to secede from the A.I.T.U.C. and to establish a rival body to be called the All-India Trade Union Federation.
The seceders obviously acted on their own initiative and without consulting the trade unions which they were supposed to represent. The proceedings of the conference of the seceders, which was held under the presidentship of Chamanlal (a member of the Government Whitley Commission at present on tour in India investigating labour conditions), clearly indicate the character of their move. Resolutions were passed supporting the Whitley Commission, accepting the Round Table Conference proposed by the Government and nominating delegates, for confirmation by the Government, to the Geneva Conference of the International Labour Office of the League of Nations. All these were resolutions which, the A.I.T.U.C. had refused to pass. The seceders were faced with a choice between working-class solidarity and co-operation with imperialism, and they chose the latter.
The new General Secretary of the A.I.T.U.C., S. V. Deshpande, has issued the following manifesto on the Nagpur session on behalf of the A.I.T.U.C. as an answer of the militant working class to the splitting policy of the right-wing leaders.
The existence, life and growth of trade unions in India is of the most vital importance to the Indian workers. To fight against the oppression of foreign imperialists and our own capitalists, millowners and others, against miserable wages, long hours, terrible housing conditions, to fight against starvation of working-class families, Indian workers have just one means, and that is by organising their ranks; building strong united organisations of the working-class militant trade unions. Strong working-class organisations pursuing militant class policy will be able to compel the millowners and other oppressors to grant the demands of the workers.
The textile workers of Bombay suffered a temporary defeat because of the united brutal efforts of Indian millowners and British imperialism, and also the fact that the textile workers of Bombay stood alone without the assistance of other textile centres. The jute workers of Bengal suffered defeat in their local strikes because they were disorganised. The same is true about the railway workers.
Strong trade unions are vital to the very existence of the working class, to the success of their many struggles to better their conditions. And, in spite of that, a section of the so-called leaders arranged a split at the last Trade Union Congress at Nagpur.
These Right-Wing Leaders split away because the Trade Union Congress decided to boycott the Whitley Commission. This every worker must remember and understand. The task of the Whitley Commission appointed by British imperialism is to fool the workers and help to stabilise and strengthen the exploitation of the workers. This Commission, dominated by capitalists like the Bombay millowner, Sir Victor Sassoon, who, by starvation plus brutal force, temporarily defeated the textile workers of Bombay, is not going to help workers. Its sole purpose is to help imperialism and the millowners and other capitalists. The workers will not allow themselves to be fooled again by promises of the Imperialist Commission into giving support to imperialism by participating in the Commission. The workers can improve their lot only by fighting for freedom, for independence, and by organising their own forces. This must be clear to every rank and file worker.
The Trade Union Congress was correct in deciding to boycott this Commission and taking a stand for militant struggle. And the Right-Wing leaders, lawyers and bar-at-laws Chamanlal, Jothi, &c., who never suffered as the workers in the mill suffered, joined the Whitley Commission, became members of it, thus betraying the struggle for betterment of the conditions of Indian workers. The Right-Wing leaders, who best represent the interests of millowners, were not content with this betrayal and in order to weaken the Indian working class, which has now become the leader and standard bearer of the struggle for Indian independence, they decided to split the ranks of trade unions.
Every worker must remember this fact. The Right-Wing leaders split away in order to weaken the economical and political struggle of the Indian workers. They split away to help British imperialism and Indian capitalists. The Right-Wing leaders had no mandate from the rank and file to split the trade union movement. Considering themselves lords over the poor, ignorant workers, they thought it was not necessary to ask the workers. The Right-Wing splitters decided to split because they are against the militant struggle of the workers. They feel and see the coming struggle of the workers in textile, jute, steel industries and on the railways. They are anxious again to disorganise the struggle as they did in the past. In order to weaken these struggles they have arranged this split. But the jute workers of Bengal, the railwaymen and the textile workers of Bombay, Madras and Ahmedabad understand their motives and will give a fitting answer by strengthening their unions under militant leadership and organising themselves for the coming struggle.
The Nagpur Session of the T.U.C. has shown again the necessity of developing militant working-class leadership from the rank of the workers themselves, true to the interest of the workers. The Right-Wing leaders, with the ease of intellectuals caring only for their own ambitions, split the Trade Union Congress. The intellectual reformist leaders betray the workers in every strike and do their best to make the workers voluntary slaves of capitalism. The reformist intellectual leaders use workers to make their own careers in Assembly, at Geneva, &c., and now that the Indian proletariat and the Trade Union Congress have given warning that they will put a stop to this, the frightened assistants of the bourgeoisie are trying to preserve themselves as parasites of the labour movement by precipitating the split. It is in vain. The pygmies, Chamanlals, &c., cannot keep the giant Indian proletariat chained. True militant genuine worker leadership is coming.
The Right-Wing leaders in their ambitions do not understand that the class-consciousness of the Indian workers is growing. The time has come when Indian workers are able to judge themselves and are able to put forward militant leadership from their own ranks. The Right-Wing leaders do not understand the historical significance of the past political labour demonstrations and the struggle of textile workers of. Bombay. The Right-Wing leaders, anxious to give voluntary police service to British imperialism by accusing the Left Wingers as being “Moscow” Agents, are trying, by all means, to stop the forward movement of the working class. It is in vain. Short-sighted reformists, assistants of British, imperialism, your efforts are futile! The militant Indian working class understands your machinations and judges you by your deeds. The textile workers of Bombay repudiated Joshi and created a powerful textile union—the Girni Kamgar Union—which you are slandering and condemning in chorus with British imperialism and the millowners for its militant working-class stand. But the same fate awaits the rest of the reformist leaders who are now trying to weaken and split labour ranks. They will find themselves in the garbage can of history. The militant Indian working class will triumph.
Our answer to this splitting policy of Right-Wing leaders, these self-appointed defenders of British imperialism is:—
Down with the Right-Wing leaders, splitting and weakening the ranks; of Indian workers!
Long live the unity of the Indian workers!
Long live the struggle for independence!
Down with the Whitley Commission!
Prepare for the struggles to improve the workers’ conditions!
Every worker into the union. Cent per cent. organisation in Indian working class!
Forward to new militant genuine working-class leadership!
Stand by the Trade Union Congress!
S. V. DESHPANDE,