Development and Underdevelopment in the History of Economic Thought

Understanding the Trade Union Movement in India

parwez parwez, School of Development Studies, Indian Institute of Health Management Research University, India

This article deals with the history of Trade Union. It was not until the close of First World War, that the modern trade Union movement took permanent roots in Indian Soil. The establishment of Bombay Mill Hands’ Association is considered as the first phase of the trade union movement in India. In 1905, the Printers Association of Calcutta and Dock Union Board in Bombay were formed. There was labor unrest in India at the end of the First World War. In several industries, the workers went on strikes to secure wage increases. The Russian Revolution and the Industrial Labor Organization have inspired the Indian laborers to launch trade unions like the Spinners Union and Weaver’s Union which had been established in Madras and Ahmedabad respectively. But the important step in the history of Indian trade unionism was the foundation of All India Trade Union Congress in 1920. There had been a steady progress of trade union movement in India. However, the decision of the Madras High Court that the formation of trade union is illegal stood in the way of its development. In 1926, the Trade Unions Act was enacted to give legal recognition to the different trade unions. The said Act also conferred certain privileges on the registered trade unions in an industrial unit. In 1930, the climate was not favorable to the growth of trade Union movements in India. In the next phase, the Second World War gave a great impetus to the trade union movement in India. The rising cost of living forced laborers to organize themselves into trade unions. Thus; there was a marked increase in both the number of trade unions and of organized workers. With independence and partition, the country was plunged into growing unemployment. A series of strikes occurred, in the country.

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Keywords: India; Trade Union; Labour; Politics