Royal Commission on Labour in India: Report(1929)||
It may be urged that a movement which suffers from so many-handicaps, which demands qualities at present so rare among Indian workmen and which is admittedly exotic in origin, is ill-suited to Indian needs and that the whole development of trade unions is a move in the wrong direction. As regards the foreign character of the movement, we would observe that modern industrialism is itself a Western importation. The difficulties which it creates for labour in India are similar to the difficulties which it has created elsewhere, and there is no evidence of any alternative remedy that is likely to prove effective. Everything that we have seen in India has forced upon us the conviction that the need of organisation among Indian workmen is great, and at a, unless industry and the State develop along entirely different lines from those at present followed, nothing but a strong trade union movement will give the Indian workman adequate protection. Legislation can act as a palliative and prevent the graver abuses, but there are strict limitations to the power of Government and the public to protect workmen who are unable to protect themselves. Labour laws, indeed, find one of their most effective sanctions in the support of organised unions. Other forms of organisation, such as works councils and works committees, serve a useful purpose when employers are well disposed, but they cannot be a substitute for trade unionism. Machinery such as industrial tribunals and conciliation boards can assist labour, but its operation is seriously hampered without organisation. It is in the power to combine that labour has the only effective safeguard against exploitation and the only lasting security against, inhumane conditions. Nor is labour the only party that will benefit from a sound development of the trade union movement. Employers and the public generally should welcome its growth. It would be foolish to pretend that in present conditions particular employers in particular centres cannot gain an advantage by thwarting and repressing attempts to organise, and all employers are bound to find, on occasion, that the organisation of their men limits their power. But whilst the advantages to be gained from repression are temporary and precarious, those that, accrue from healthy organisation are lasting. Further, some form of organisation is inevitable, since the need is acute and is bound to evoke a response. If that response does not take the form of a properly organised trade union movement, it may assume a more dangerous form. Some employers have already suffered severely from the lack of responsible trade unions of their workers, and this type of suffering extends to the community as a whole.