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Report No. 58

Trade union movement in India compared with U.S.A. and U.K.

7.7. It may, incidentally, be pointed out at this stage that unfortunately, trade union movement in this country did not have to undergo the trials and struggle which were witnessed in the United States of America and in the United Kingdom. In both the countries, before unionism attained the status of respectability, trade unionists, had to undergo severe trial. In the United States, the struggle for recognition that was carried on by the trade union movement often led to violent fights between employers and the employees. The 'yellow dog' contracts, which were used as weapon by the employers, came to an end only in 1932 under the Norris La Guardia Act and the National Labour Relations Act, 1935 makes reasonable provisions on the basis of the legitimacy of the Trade Union Act.

In the United Kingdom, the Common Law doctrine of conspiracy held sway, and even if two or more workmen combined to bargain for better terms of employment, they were hauled up on the charge of conspiracy, and sometimes sentenced to undergo what would now strike one as a savage sentence. It was in 1906 that the Trade Disputes Act took the first stern step recognising the right to form Trade Unions.1

Thus, both in the .S.A. and in the U.K., trade unionism had gone through the baptism of fire before receiving recognition and attaining the status of respectability.

1. Elegg Fox and Thompson History of British Trade Unionism, (1964) Vol. 1, pp. 313-325.

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