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

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Redevelopment of Mumbai s Cotton Textile Mill Land-Opportunity Lost

The decline of textile industry heralds the de-industrialisation of Mumbai, manifested in the exodus of workers from the city's mill areas. The mill-owners in order to earn bigger revenue are resorting to subterfuge in disposing of their land, workers and assets under the pretext of 'modernising' their mills. None of the agencies involved, from central government to state government institutions and the municipal authorities, appears to be unduly concerned about this major change in industrial heartland of Mumbai In order to retain the social heritage of Girangaon, and most importantly, to retain as many jobs as possible, the state government instead of permitting piecemeal, haphazard growth through clandestine plot-by-plot sale of mill land, should actively intervene to bring together lands belonging to different mills in a particular area, so that they can be put to best possible socially relevant use.

Mumbai's Textile Mills and the Land Question

In refusing to give permission to textile mills in Mumbai to sell their land the Maharashtra government gives the impression that it is being sympathetic to the cause of the mill workers, but actually it is pandering to the builders' lobby. The take-no-decision policy of the state government does not mean, however, that changes will not take place, albeit haphazardly and clandestinely. Based on recent developments, some likely scenarios are sketched here.

Mumbai Textile Mills Land-High Cost of Inaction

The continuing indecision about the land belonging to the textile mills in Mumbai has hurt the dry, poor and rich alike. In a city starved of land for housing, commerce and recreation, the bringing of 300 to 400 acres of centrally-located land on the market cannot but have a desirable impact, particularly if a large chunk of the new land were to be earmarked for low income housing at high density.

Cotton Mill Workers in Bombay, 1875 to 1918-Conditions of Work and Life

Conditions of Work and Life Shashi Bhushan Upadhyay On the basis of evidence from contemporary sources, this paper attempts to capture the domestic and workplace environment of the early cotton mill workers in Bombay city. The long hours of work in the mills exhausted the workers both physically and mentally The physical environment of their homes was no better; neglected by the authorities and exploited by private builders, the workers lived in ill-lighted, ill-ventilated dens in largely undeveloped, undrained areas. To find solace from this hard life of labour the workers often resorted to alcohol drinking. The regular intake of alcohol coupled with their hard work in the mills and the polluted atmosphere both at home and in the mills weakened their resistance and made them easy prey to various diseases, the lack of organised labour activity during the period under study was also attributable to the grim daily routine of the workers.

Evolution of Unionism and Labour Market Structure-Case of Bombay Textile Mills, 1947-1985

Using primary and secondary data this paper shows that the origins of the phenomenon of independent unionism in the Bombay mill industry were embedded in the dynamics of technological transformation within the industry as well as in the struggles of the workers at the mill level over time. The evolution of both the structure of collective negotiations and the structure of textile unionism occurs simultaneously. Thus not only does the bargaining structure result from prior union-management negotiations and varying capital intensities within firms in an industry, but the type of unionism is transformed during these processes. Examining the opposing forces of the law in preserving the status quo in the form of the BIR Act and the role of the 1982 strike in breaking down the state-imposed industry-wide bargaining structure in the industry, it is observed that the strike was partially successful.

Bombay Labour Once Again

THE history of Bombay textile labour continues to occupy the scholarly interest of professional social scientists. 

Industry- Lock-Outs with a Purpose

Two inferences seem to follow from the data on industrial disputes published in the January 1984 issue of Indian Labour Journal First, throughout the period 1974 to 1982, the time lost per industrial dispute and the time lost per worker were several times more in the case of lock-outs than in that of strikes. In other words, lockouts by managements were of much longer duration than strikes by workers. One likely explanation may be that owners of out-dated plant and machinery resort to lock-outs either as a step towards closing down their units or as a pressure tactic for extracting more aid and concessions from the government. 

Politics and Organisations of Urban Workers

The working class is an apparently privileged section. It has sained a more or less secure entry into the mainstream of economy, the sphere of organised production. In a society characterised by unemployment, poverty, scarcity and deprivation even wage slavery can be considered a privilege. 

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. 

LABOUR-Textile Strike Turns Political

Three hundred thousand workers marched in pouring rain in Bombay on August 1, bring Bombay's strike of 250,000 textile workers, the largest in history, to a new level of political confrontation with the Congress(I). "Without destroying the anti-working class power of Congress, the basic problems of textile workers and other sections of workers cannot be solved", declared the workers' leader, Datra Samant. Other union representatives, women's organisation representatives, and activists of the Lai Nishan Party called for workers' take-over of factories, recalled China's 'long march' and stressed the transformation of the workers' struggle into a political one.

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. 

LABOUR-Minimum Wages for Industrial Workers

It was in 1946 that Bombay textile workers won the right to a minimum wage for the whole industry, a wage that was supposed to be related to the needs of a worker (rather, of the worker's family) and not to the capitalists so-called capacity to pay. The 1946 Award based the minimum wage on the diet recommendation of Dr Aykroyd, the then Director of the Nutrition Research Laboratories at Coonoor, which laid down a minimum daily intake of 2.600 calorics for an adult working six hours in India. Even at that time this recommendation was regarded as being too low. Given that (he League of Nations Nutrition Commission had recommended 2,400 calories the energy requirement for basic diet (i e, without work) for workers in temperate countries and 75 calories per hour of moderate work, 3,000 calories would be the requirement for eight hours of moderate work. 

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