Tata Workers' Union is one of the earliest trade unions in India. Its history dates back to March 1920. Formerly known as 'Labour Association', the trade union at Jamshedpur, as elsewhere, was born out of workers' suffering and sacrifices caused by a prolonged strike which ultimately resulted in the increase of wages, introduction of fringe benefits like Provident Fund and, above all, recognition of the Labour Association. An Advisory Joint Committee with representatives from Labour and Management was formed as a precursor to the concept of workers' participation in management, which was to become in later years a remarkable success in Tata Steel.
There was, however, a serious setback in 1922 when the Union launched a strike for securing certain basic demands like security of service, better service conditions, etc. the strike failed. The Management promptly withdrew its recognition and discharged the General Secretary of the Union from service. The labour at Jamshedpur soon drew all-India leaders like C.F. Andrews, C.R. Das, and Motilal Nehru into the field. A conciliation committee with C.R. Das as Chairman was formed to break the deadlock. It failed. Mahatma Gandhi was persuaded by Andrews to intervene. Gandhiji visited Jamshedpur in 1925 and through his good offices a settlement was reached. The recognition of the Union was restored and its General Secretary reinstated. As C.F. Andrews was abroad, Subhas Chandra Bose was inducted into the organization as President. Thus, this Union had the unique privilege of all the political stalwarts of the day association with its activities. But, unfortunately, trade union rivalry also ran high during this period and the Management exploited it to the full.
Labour Association, Jamshedpur formed in 1920, much before AITUC. Even the Communist party of India was not in existence during that period.
Consolidation of the Movement
With the appearance of Prof. Abdul Bari on the scene in 1936, the movement took deep roots. A psychological thrust was given to the movement when he changed the name of the Labour Association to "Tata Workers' Union". The unity and maturity that he brought about among the Tisco workers were so strong that they survived all political onslaughts with perfect confidence. Under his dynamic leadership the Union launched its struggle for a thorough revision of the wage structure, introduction of the incentive bonus scheme, etc. through the efforts of Prof. Bari, the Bihar Labour Enquiry Committee was constituted with Dr. Rajendra Prasad as Chairman, and Prof. Bari as one of the members. The Report submitted by this august body in 1940 constituted the first authentic document on labour situation in Bihar in general and at Jamshedpur in particular.
After a prolonged struggle for a decade and repeated strike threats in 1945 and 1946, an Agreement was signed in February 1948 by the Union and the Management which not only secured higher wages and better working conditions but also, what is more significant, stipulated the formation of joint committees with equal representation to ensure better understanding and settlement of disputes by negotiations. But, before the advent of this new era of conciliation in place of conflict, our beloved leader and great patriot, Prof. Bari, died under tragic circumstances on 28th March 1947.
Era of Constructive Trade Union Movement
Shri Michael John, who took over the presidentship of the Union after Prof. Bari's death, was the architect of this new era. Sri John as President and Sri V. G. Gopal as General Secretary, both of whom came from the working class, provided a formidable and harmonious leadership which could secure maximum gains to the workers with minimum sufferings, a phenomenon rarely evidenced anywhere else.
As a first step to reduce tension within the ranks, the supervisory and technical staff was brought under the same roof by forming the Supervisory and Technicians Unit as an integral part of the Union-a unique feature in industrial relations.
A shining example of this new era and new outlook was the famous Agreement of 1956 which has been hailed as the 'magna carta' of the working class and recknoned as a landmark in the history of the trade union movement in India. Besides the usual benefits it secured for the workers by way of higher wages, more houses, improved medical facilities, etc., the Agreement laid down a three-tier programme of closer association of employees with management. At the bottom, departmental councils were formed with equal representation of workers and officers; at the middle, Joint Works Council and Joint Town Council were constituted, and at the apex Joint Consultative Council of Management was set up. Another feature of this Agreement was the introduction of a streamlined grievance procedure, which aimed at redressing individual grievances in the shortest possible time at the lowest possible level. A provision of far-reaching importance incorporated in the Agreement was to the effect that there should be no retrenchment as a result of any rationalization scheme in Tisco. Further, redundant labour shall be provided with training and retraining facilities and absorbed in suitable jobs without any monetary loss.
Tata Workers' Union has always given a stable leadership with continuous guidance, which stands as its major strength. Between 1920 and 2006 there were 9 presidents, in comparison with the other national trade union organizations such as AITUC and TLA. The Tata Workers' Union has always given utmost importance in their collective bargaining with the management in the sphere of the
* Revision of wage, * Incentive Bonus, * House * Medical Facilities, * Family Welfare, * Community & Social Development, * Annual Bonus.
Minimum wage per month has increased progressively:
* 1920 - Rs. 13/-; * 1970 - Rs. 240/-: * 1986 - Rs. 550/-; * 1989 - Rs. 1350/-; * 1995 - Rs. 2100/-; * 2001 - Rs. 4000/- ; * 2007 - Rs. 8080/-
The Tata Workers' Union has the membership over 93% employees in Tata Steel. It is the only union recognized by Tata Steel since 1920.
Over the last 85 years Tata Workers' Union (formerly Labour Association, Jamshedpur) has a long way to become a responsible union. The leadership has been matured and consistent.
Tata Workers' Union leaders took actuve part in the freedom movement since 1928 to 1942 Quit India Movement and went to jail several time.
Total 19 agreements between TISCO and Tata Workers' Union through collective bargaining between 1920-2008.
President or general secretary of the Tata worker?s Union since 1920 were either employees or former employees of the company or Tata workers union.
All financial, social and fringe benefits gained through non-violent and peaceful means. Since 1928 there is no industrial strike in TISCO.
In 1962, the Tata Workers' Union spent Lacs of rupees to run two high schools for the education of member?s children. Later on Government of Bihar took over the charge of these schools.
Since 1954 Tata Workers' Union has introduced a sickness benefit scheme for the benefit of its member in the event of their sickness causing loss of pay.
If a Tata workers' Union member worker retires a token gift is given to the retired member.
Tata workers' Union publishes a paper " ISPAT MAZDUR " to give up-todate information and enlighten the member.
Each year Tata workers' union organizes a memorial lecture in the name of its fifth President, Late Michael john in which national and international reputed personality, who has made an important contribution in this sphere, are recognized and a gold medal is rewarded to him.
The Tata workers' union also considers the improvement of workers education and awareness level as one of its responsibilities and keeping this in view Michael John Center is established, which conducts trained and developmental programmes for workers and supervisors.
The long-felt desire of the union to have its own building has been fulfilled with turning a new leaf in the history. The building is being dedicated to the cherished memory of Prof. Abdul Bari, the founder president of Tata workers' union and Auditorium named after Shri Michael John who provided al the inspiration and direction for 30 years as president of the union.
The Tata workers' union took the lead in forming the Indian National Metalworkers Federation, embracing all the steel and Engineering industry.
Tata workers' union has the credit of participating in the founding comenence of two union centers in India.