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Textile Industry-Putting Sickness to Use

Union Commerce Minister V P Singh apparently underestimated the influence of the Bombay textile mill owners' lobby over his party's government and has hence been forced to retrace his steps. The prolonged strike by roughly two lakh textile workers in Bombay's textile mills, organised by Datta Samant's Mumbai Girni Kamgar Union, has petered out. About 15,000 workers have been retrenched following modernisation in some of the reopened mills. And another 36,000 workers are yet to get back their jobs owing to the alleged sickness of 12 mills which are at present virtually closed. Maharashtra's Chief Minister Vasantdada Patil and leaders of the Congress(I)'s Rashtriya Mill Mazdoor Sangh, in their discussions with the Commerce Minister during the latter's visit to Bombay on September 26, pressed for government take-over of the sick mills.

Bombay Textile Workers-After the Strike

As Bombay's textile workers have gone back to work, following the petering out of Datta Samant's long strike, the millowners, it is clear, have extracted the maximum advantage out of their helplessness. And the state government, not surprisingly, instead of exercising its powers, is pretending to be leaving it to the courts to provide justice to the workers.

Teaching the Workers A Lesson

As the strike of the two-and-a-half lakh workers of the textile mills of Bombay is about to cross the 150-day mark, a series of developments in the last few days have removed any remaining doubts about the Union government's determination to make no concessions to the striking workers and to defeat the strike. About the beginning of this month there were indications that the Maharashtra government would not be averse to moves to bring about a negotiated settlement of the strike. The state Chief Minister had told journalists in Pune on May 30 that the strike could be settled if all trade unionists came together and evolved a common minimum demand for the workers, taking into account the mills' paying capacity. Three days later he disclosed in Bombay that he was hopeful of a quick end to the strike. He was, he claimed, holding informal talks with several persons connected with the strike.

LABOUR-Bombay Textile Strike What Lies Ahead

The five-month old strike in 60 mills spells out a crisis in the institutional framework of capital-labour relations in the Bombay's cotton textile industry. The persistence of the strike has surprised the employers as well as the government, who expected the strike to fizzle-out in a few weeks.

LABOUR- Bombay Textile Workers Strike-A Different View

The tradition of the textile workers of Bombay sustaining industrywide strikes over very long periods goes back to over half a century. The present strike of these workers in Bombay .shows that, whatever else may have changed, the present generation of textile workers has not lost that capability.

Textile Industry, Cotton Prices and Datta Samant

The textile labour agitation in Bombay coincides with the intense lobbying that has been going on in New Delhi over the fixation of raw cotton prices for Maharashtra for tho 1981-82 cotton year. The delay in announcing these prieos weeks after purchasing centres have opened all over the state is an index of the complex forces at work fust now.

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.

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.
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