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HISTORY OF TRADE UNION

HISTORY OF TRADE UNION

Start of Trade Union Movement:

Modern working class movement is a product of Industrial Revolution, when Industrial Revolution developed with its center in United Kingdom (U.K) with simultaneously germination of working class movement, the initial stages of trade union movement also spread in the colonies and semi-colonies of the imperialist powers in Asia. Africa and Latin Americas, Since the United States and Australia developed with the migration of the Europeans, trade movement, particularly in America spread faster.

Development of capitalism, so to say, a change –over from the old feudal economic order to the modern capitalist economy was a long drawn out process starting from the mid sixteenth century. In the course of this evolution spreading over a period of  about two hundred years right from the mid sixteenth to the last third of the eighteenth century. The characteristic form of capitalist production was manufacture. In the era before manufacture also, the workers depended on selling their labour power, but they still had the real chance of eventually becoming independent. But manufacture involved extensive division of labour between many workers concentrated under one roof. The social division of labour and specialization of functions led to the down-grading and subordination of the individual, who became a completely isolated component, cut off from the process of production as a whole and subjected to rigorous discipline. All that the worker required was a highly specialized dexterity losing his general skill as a craftsman and his ability for independent work.

World Trade Union Movement.

          The Developing trade unions in the various countries, almost from the beginning, expressed a strong urge towards international organization and action. They felt a keen need to support each other’s strikes, to block the importation of strike breakers, to learn from one another’s general experience in the class struggle, and to meet jointly the many problems that confronted them in a capitalist system that was international in scope. To the masses of trade unionists, if not to their conservative leaders, there always was the greatest meaning so in the basic working class slogan enunciated by the Communist Manifesto, “Workingmen of the World, Unite!”

            In fact, an effort was made at the initial congress Geneva of First International in 1866 to restrict the new organization solely to manual workers. Wisely, however, the motion was voted down, as it would have excluded many non-working class fighters, including Marx and Engels. Historically, what the workers of the various countries then needed most was a broad political Organisation, and this was what Marx fought for and what the workers built.

Preliminary Efforts for a World Unity.

            The pressure for a new world Organisation, came from various quarters from the French and Italian, from the Latin America from the Armenia CIO, from the Russians. The leadership of British Trade Union Congress, who obviously realized what was coming and wanted to head and control the growing movement, proposed in November 1943 that a world trade union conference be called in June 1944, to further the Allied war effort, to adopt a labour attitude toward eventual peace and reconstruction, and to consider the question of world labour unity. This conference was not held, however, because of war reasons. The AFL took a sharp position against it, advocating the re-vitalizing of the IFTU.  The Soviet trade unions, as strong advocate of world unity, criticized the British for taking unilateral action.

            The next big effort for world trade union unity came in December 1944, when a preliminary conference of the British TUC, the CIO, and the Soviet trade unions was held in London to make preparation for a general conference, the date for which was finally set for London on February 6, 1915. As in the case of the first world conference proposal, an invitation was also extended to the AFL to attend this one. But once more the AFL refused to participate. Instead, it urged the half-dead IFTU to call a world conference of its on –which would has meant against to exclude half or more of the world labour unions.

The London conference , beginning on February 6, 1945, was made up of 204 delegates, representing some 60,000,000 workers in 42 countries.It was the largest gethring of the world’s workers ever held up to this time,and although it did not include regular delegations from Germany and Japan.

The Formation of WFTU.

            On May 23rd, 1945-Two weeks after VE day, the preparatory committee issued a call for a second world labour conference. This was held in Paris (France), beginning on September 25 and lasting until October 8, 1945. On October 3 the conference transformed itself into a congress. There were listed 346 delegates from 56 countries, representing 67,000,000 organized workers. The delegation included TWO representative of the International Federation of Trade Unions (IFTU) and 29 from that body’s international trade secretariats. The International Federation of Christian Trade Unions (IFCTU) also had a representative. There were large delegations from the colonial and semi colonial areas of the world. The AFL was invited to attend, but it refused, the only important national federation in the world so abstaining. The American Coal Miners union also stayed away, but the conservative Rail Road Brotherhood sent 2 delegates.

            The larger organizations represented in the formation of World Federation of Trade Union were from the USSR (27,124,000) Great Briton (6,600,000) USA (CIO) 6,000,000, Italy (5,200,000) France (5,100,000) Latin America (1,000,000)Czechoslovakia (1,500,000) Romania (1,267,201) Sweden (1,087,000) Poland (1,011,000) Mexico (1,000,000) Hungry (888,000) China (800,000) French Catholic (750,000) Yugoslavia (662,000) Australia (625,000) Cuba (557,000) Nigeria(500,000)

Formation of the ICFTU.

            Capitalists all over the world hailed the split in the World Federation of Trade Union (WFTU) particularly in the United States, where Walls Street had placed the destruction of that Organisation as one of the first and most important task in the drive for world domination. The reactionaries at the head of the AFL, who had long since parted company from any proletarian spirit that any of them may have had originally, were particularly joyous at the split, under the title,”WFTU” Broken Up – Next Steps for the Free Trade Unions”. The AFL executive council, on February 4, 1949 declared, “The American Federation of Labour and the Free Trade Unions throughout the world can only vigorously applaud the severance by the British Trade Union Congress, the CIO and the Netherland Federation of Labour of all relations with the so-called World Federation of Trade Unions”.