The All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC) was founded in 1920 with Lala Lajpat Rai as its first president. Up to 1945 Congressmen, Socialists, Communists worked in the AITUC which was the central trade union organisation of workers of India. Subsequently the trade union movement got split on political lines.
The membership of the AITUC is 3.6 million. The unions affiliated to AITUC are from textile, engineering, coal, steel, road transport, electricity board and of unorganised sector such as beedi, construction and head-load workers, anganwadi, local bodies and handloom. Recently a number of agriculture workers' unions have affiliated themselves to AITUC.
The first session of the AITUC was held under the presidentship of Lala Lajpat Rai. In his presidential address, he exhorted the workers:
"Indian labour should lose no time to organize itself on a national scale. Capital is organized on a world-wide basis. It is backed up by financial and political strength, beyond conception. In order to meet the danger, Indian labour will have to join hands with labour outside India also, but its first duty is to organize itself at home".
"At present, our greatest need is to organize, agitate and educate. We must organize our workers, make them class-conscious and educate them in the ways and interests of common weal."
The General Secretary of the AITUC is Gurudas Dasgupta, the Indian policitian and leader of the Communist Party of India. The AITUC is a member of the World Federation of Trade Unions.
Although the organization was originally formed to give Indian representation at the League of Nations' International Labor Organization (ILO), it also met an increasing need for such a body for the rapidly expanding labor movement in India. There had been an increasing number of protests and organized lobbying in the late 1800s. This was during British rule and was a reaction against many of the conditions imposed at that time. In the wake of the upheaval caused by World War One, working people all over the world becan to view their situations with new eyes. There was a huge amount of activity and protest involving working class people during these early years of the twentieth century.
It was during these years that the AITUC was formed, and this represented the birth of the trade union movement as we now recognise it. Through the 1920s there was an increasing involvement in the AITUC by British communists and this continued through the 1930s up to the Second World War. At this point the British Communist members exercised a controlling influence over the organization.
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