T. M. Abu (Cochin)|
was interviewed on 30th June 2001 at Matancherry on Fort Cochin
island. Interviewing him was
important because he represents one of oldest living port and dock TU leaders in
Kerala and his importance also being from the fact that he belonged to a
minority Muslim community and to have a leader, a trade unionist of such a
stature from the community was something significant In his interview he
revealed many historically significant facts of both the trade union and
political life of Kerala as well as revealing a lot about life in the very
cosmopolitan island of Fort Cochin which he revealed was during the British days
the military base of the British military forces and played a significant role
in the first and second world wars.
He revealed in the interview that he was born into a family where his father was a small time contractor in the loading and unloading of goods. In the interview he revealed many other details of his childhood and youth and how the period of World War II brought of business to the Port Cochin island area and Matanchery. Then he also revealed how on getting a job in P&T he worked and left it after one year in 1944 which dismayed his father so much that he died after that in 1945. Then he revealed about after his father’s death he joined CPI and started full fledged TU work. Comrade George Chadayamuri the legend of trade unionist took him over and made Abu General Secretary of Cochin Port and Cargo Labour Union in 1946. He worked along with these senior leaders and learnt the TU work and mobilized workers on the issue of “casualization” which was started by the British govt. But after the Calcutta conference of the CPI when it was decided to go for armed revolution against the Nehru govt. he got arrested in 1949 and was thrown into jail for over two and a half years.
After his release in 1952 he started TU work in Fort Cochin area once again but Abu saheb said though he supported BTR’s line of armed revolution however once it got crushed the reality on the ground was that in all mass fronts where communists were leading before after release he found the dominance had gone and INTUC, HMS etc had developed even amoung the cargo workers. So AITUC has lost its old mass position after BTR’s line failed to catch on. Then Abu saheb said he led the Cochin cargo workers in a 75 days struggle against casualization. Talking about other aspects of his political life Abu saheb said the in 1969 he got elected as Cochin Councillor for a seven year period. Abu saheb narrated his other political experiences when he became General Secretary of the All India Federation of Tus of 11 major ports of India called the All India Port &Dock Waterfront Workers Federation of India. Inderjeet Gupta was the President of the same. Then he narrated his work as TUI Chairman of WFTU of Port and Dock Branch. Then he became president of State Headload Workers Federation and Cochin Fishery Factory Workers Union. He says now since the 1980s he has been agitating to the central and state governments that and International Container Terminal be constructed in Cochin as in Dubai, Colombo and Sale. An international delegation came to Cochin and researched and its report said Cochin is just 8 nautical miles from the main international shipping highway from East to West and has the best natural harbour. All that is needed is government approval.