The Working Class Movements

  • There were some working class movements in second half of 19th century. However, they were impulsive and not very well organized.
  • The early nationalists had a lukewarm attitude towards the question of workers. This war because initially Congress wanted to focus on issues which were of common concern to all the people of India.
  • There was a difference in attitude of the nationalists towards workers in indigenous and European enterprises.
  • The most important feature of the labour movement during the Swadeshi days was the shift from agitation and struggles on purely economic questions to the involvement of the worker with the wider political issues of the day.
  • The All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC) was founded in 1920.
  • IN 1918 Gandhi founded the Ahmedabad Textile Labour Association.
  • The AITUC in November 1927 took a decision to boycott the Simon Commission and many workers participated in the massive Simon boycott demonstrations.
  • Alarmed by worker’s movement, the government enacted repressive laws like the Public Safety Act and Trade Disputes Acts and arrested the entire radical leadership of the labour movement and launched the Meerut Conspiracy Case against them.
  • The labour movement suffered a major setback partially due to this government offensive and partially due to a shift in stance of the communist led wing of the movement.
  • From the end of 1928, the communists stopped aligning them with the national movement.
  • Communists got isolated within the AITUC and were thrown out in the split of 1931.
  • BY 1934, the communists re-entered the mainstream nationalist politics.
  • The working class of Bombay held an anti-war strike on 2 October, 1939.
  • With the Nazi attack on the Soviet Union in 1941, the communists changed their policy and asked the people to support the allied forces instead of holding anti-war strikes.
  • The communists dissociated themselves from the Quit India movement launched in 1942.
  • The last years of colonial rule also saw a remarkably sharp increase in strikes on economic issues all over the country – the all India strike of the post and telegraph department employees being the most well known among them.

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