Problems of Industrial Relations in India : Memorandum of the All India Trade Union Congress to National Commission on Labour||
British oppression that made the capitalist employers agree to
certain reforms—such as weekly holiday, limitation on hours
of work, an increase in wages (once called the "plague bonus"
to prevent workers from deserting the factories in times of
epidemics) and so on. Even this was only in certain town
centres of industry. In far-off plantations and coal mines, the
infamous system of "indentured labour" prevailed.
In fact, the industrial relations policy in pre-indepen-dence
days generally had the character of "indentured labour",
modified here and there by the resistance of the workers and
the general anti-imperialist nationalist movement.
A change came in this policy due to the crisis ushered in
by the first world war and its aftermath.
Indian capital gathered strength vis-a-vis the British. The
workers and the people as a whole in India began to protest
against the iniquities of the British rule. Following the
October Revolution in Russia and the subsequent revolutions
on the continent of Europe and the general crisis of the whole
capitalist system, the Indian people undertook powerful mass
movements and uprisings against the British, in which the
working class in the Industrial cities played a prominent role.
The capitalists the world over hurriedly began to announce
measures of amelioration to the working class, lest it take the
revolutionary road. In India, too, the British and Indian
capitalists, following a big strike wave, reduced the working
day to 10 hours (1920), raised dearness allowance, gave ex-
gratia bonus from the huge war-profits they had made.
The political leadership of the country as represented by
the Indian. National Congress began to take interest in the
trade unions and workers' struggles. The All-India Trade
Union Congress, which was founded in 1920, attracted all the
well-known leaders of Indian nationalism. Mahatma