Labour Monthly

Indian Trade Union Movement


Source : Labour Monthly  June, 1941, No.6.
Publisher : The Labour Publishing Company Ltd., London.
Transcription/HTML : Salil Sen
Public Domain : Marxists Internet Archive (2010). 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 Eighteenth Session of the All-India Trade Union Congress was held at Bombay on 28 and 29 September 1940; Dr. Suresh Chandra Banerjee, President of the Congress, presided. The session constituted a landmark in the history of the Indian labour movement in that it witnessed the restoration of complete unity in Indian trade union ranks by the merging of the National Trades Union Federation in the All-India Trade Union Congress.

In 1935 an agreement had been reached between the representatives of the All-India Trade Union Congress and the National Trades Union Federation by virtue of which a joint committee of the two organisations was to be formed with a view to exploring the possibilities of common action with the assistance of the unions affiliated to both. In April 1938, at a special Joint Session of the All-India Trade Union Congress and the National Trades Union Federation held at Nagpur, it was decided to combine these. two bodies into one central organisation. The present decision to merge, the N.T.U.F. in the A.I.T.U.C. is the fruit of these earlier decisions. The N.T.U.F. at its final session of 28 September, in its merger resolution, appointed a merger committee of Messrs. N.M. Joshi, V.R. Kalappa and S.C. Joshi and stipulated a three-quarter majority as necessary in questions of politics, strikes and foreign affiliations. The total membership of the A.I.T.U.C. after the amalgamation will be 195 unions with a membership of 374,526; of these 61 unions with a membership of 150,047 belong to the N.T.U.F.

Election of Officers

The following officers were elected: President, Mr. V.R. Kalappa; Vice-Presidents, Mr. Aftab Ali, Dr. Charu Banerjee, and Mr. Purshottam Trikandas; General Secretary, Mr. N.M. Joshi; Assistant Secretaries, Miss Shanta Balerao and Mr. Phani Ghose; Treasurer, Mr. R.S. Nimbkar.

The following are some of the more important resolutions adopted:

Conscription of Skilled Labour

The Congress protested against the Ordinance to conscript skilled industrial labour on the ground that it involved compulsion as well as the forcible transfer of workers to distant places, causing hardship and loss of personal liberty, and demanded an immediate repeal of the Ordinance.

War Allowance

This resolution congratulated the workers all over India on the vigorous protests that they had launched on the outbreak of war to defend their standards of life. The Congress strongly condemned the attitude of the employers and of the Central and Provincial Governments who resisted this just demand of the workers. It noted that in a large number of cases no wage increases had been granted and that where increases had been granted they were most inadequate. The constituent unions and the workers in general were called upon to carry on a persistent and determined struggle for securing adequate compensation for the rise in the standard of living.

Repression by Government

An indignant and emphatic protest was made against the policy of repression pursued by the Government since the outbreak of the war, by which some of the leading persons in the trade union movement had been put under restraint "with or without judicial trial on various allegations, more particularly for alleged violation of the Defence of India Act." This policy had resulted in the paralysis of the day-to-day work of trade unions and peasant (kisan) organisations. The Congress called upon the working class to oppose such measures of repression and to defend their civil liberties.

Attitude to Present War

"As the present war between Great. Britain on one side and the Fascist Powers on the other is claimed by Britain to be waged for the vindication of the principles of freedom and democracy and not for any imperialist purposes, India, without having any sympathy for either imperialism or Fascism, naturally claims for herself freedom and democratic government before she can be expected to take part in the war. Participation in a war which will not result in the establishment of freedom and democracy in India will not benefit India, much less will it benefit the working classes in India."

In the report for 1938-1940 presented to the Session by the General Secretary it was stated that: By a resolution of the Working Committee passed in August 1938, the A.I.T.U.C. decided to co-operate with the All-India Kisan Sabha (the national peasants' organisation) in the formation of a Joint Committee of Workers and Peasants for a combined drive against exploitation by landlords and capitalists.