ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Textile Workers and Datta Samant

Cotton textiles, the biggest industry in Bombay employing the largest 11 number of workers, has been churning for the last two months. The first intimation of the turmoil came when workers went on a warning strike on September 27 under the leadership of four unions. The strike was in support of the demand for 12.33 per cent bonus payment by mills making losses and 20 per cent and more by the others, according to their profits. The unions also gave a warning of an indefinite strike in support of the general demands of textile workers which have been pending for several years.

Capital and Labour in Bombay City, 1928-29

This paper attempts to study the historical specificities of class conflict and consciousness in colonial India in the industrial context. This attempt is made on the basis of a study of certain long-term trends converging towards an intensification of labour-capital conflict in the Bombay textile industry and a detailed analysis of a nodal point, the strike actions of 1928-29. The paper questions some current notions about the 'irrationality' of working-class behaviour faced with technological change.

Action to Suit Words

The chief minister of Maharashtra has followed up his vicious verbal attack on the working class and trade unions in his address to the executive committee of the FICCI in Bombay on May 29 with th e most brazen deployment of the police against workers to suppress the rally on June 24 sought to be organised by Datta Samant, the trade union leader.

The Datta Samant Phenomenon—II

Before considering Datta Samant's role in the post-Emergency period in detail, it is necessary to look at three factors which helped to shape this period, from within the trade union movement.

The Datta Samant Phenomenon—I

Datta Samant has been the most talked of, enigmatic and controversial trade union leader in Maharashtra in the past few years. Working class activity in Bombay has come to be equated with the ventures of Datta Samant His involvement in long drawn out struggles, the militant following he commands and the bloody inter-union rivalries he has been associated with provide ideal ingredients for sensational news items. The struggles of the workers in the post-Emergency period in Maharashtra have by and large been portrayed as the struggles of Datta Samant.

Bombay Communists and the 1924 Textile Strike

The recent publications of many kinds of source material on the beginnings of the Indian communist movement, including hitherto classified intelligence reports, creates the impression that the communist movement in those early days was a very powerful political force. The fact that in 1924, there was both a major strike in the Bombay textile mills and the launching of the Kanpur Conspiracy Case reinforces this impression of a well-organised, secret communist movement posing grave dangers to the government, and both the government and Communist Party leaders, for different reasons, seek to establish a causal relation between the two.

Poor Award for Textile Workers

Everyone was impressed by the award in the Bombay textile labour wage dispute announced on April 13 by the chief minister of Maharashtra and the Union Industries Minister. The media made sure that everyone would be impressed. The award was described as epoch-making, unprecedented, etc. The textile workers, however, were not impressed; they were disappointed.

Conditions of Bombay's Textile Workers

In recent months several industrialists and economists have been trying to persuade us that organised industrial labour is the new privileged class in the country. Relative to unorganised labour, rural and urban, and given the level of industrial wages, permanence of employment and dearness allowance pegged to the price index, this would seem to be so.

Textile Policy-Bonanza for Mills

THE so-called textile policy announced by the Industry Minister in Parliament on August 7 has only one real purpose: to free the textile industry of the obligation to produce a certain quantity of cloth of mass consumption varieties at prices fixed by the government.

Anti-Working Class Law

The Maharashtra Recognition of Trade Unions and Prevention of Unfair Labour Practices Act was passed in 1971 after consideration or the Report of the Committee on Unfair Labour Practices which was published in July J969. However, though the Act was passed in 1971, it was not enforced till September 8, 1975, i.e, after the imposition of the internal Emergency, when the working class movement was on the defensive. It is quite clearly a piece of anti-working class legislation and the working class should demand its repeal.

Bonus Movement among Textile Workers

The densely populated textile mills urea of Parel-Lalbaug in Bombay recently witnessed organised expression of workers' discontent on the bonus question. Th e central trade union organisations active among textile workers sensed the signals and bestirred themselves. There was a strike which began on October 15, and continued till October 18. In about 30 mills, the strike was total, and the remaining mills operated only partially.

May Day with a Difference

The workers of Bombay first observed May Day in 1927 (the first May Day to be observed in India) by going on strike and launching a movement for working class solidarity that proved to be a prelude to the formation of the first well-organised militant trade union in the country, the Girni Kamgar Union, and to the agitation against the Simon Commission in 1928. It also, in a sense, inaugurated the political movement of workers in the country. Things have changed a great deal in Bombay since then.

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