Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh
The Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (Indian Workers' Union) is the largest central trade union organization in India. It was founded by Dattopantji Thengdi on July 23, 1955, which also happens to the birthday of Bal Gangadhar Tilak.
The BMS itself claims to have more 10million members. At present it is estimated around 5860 unions are affiliated to the BMS. According to provisional statistics from the Ministry of Labour, the BMS had a membership of 6,215,797 in 2002. It can also be noted that the BMS is not affiliated to any International Trade Union Confederation.
Shri C. K. Saji Narayanan is the current president of the organization, and Shri. Baij Nath Rai its General Secretary.
BMS was founded on 23 July 1955 – the day being the birth anniversary of Lok Manya Bal Gangadhar Tilak – veteran of Freedom Movement. Two important aspects stand out in connection with this:
(a) Formation of BMS was not the result of split in the existing trade union organisations, unlike in the case of almost all other trade unions. Hence it had the formidable responsibility of building its organisational structure from the grass root level. It started from zero having no trade union, no membership, no activist (karyakarta), no office and no fund. (b) On the very first day it was visualised as a trade union whose base-sheet anchors – would be Nationalism, would work as a genuine trade union, keeping itself scrupulously away from party politics. This was also unlike other trade unions which were linked to one or the other political party, overtly or otherwise.
Aims And Objectives
The aims and objectives of BMS are:
(a) To establish ultimately the Bharatiya order of society in which there shall be secured among other things:
i. Complete utilisation of manpower and resources leading to full employment and maximum production. ii. Replacement of profit motive by service motive and establishment of economic democracy resulting in equitable distribution of wealth to the best advantage of all individual citizens and of the national as a whole. iii. Development of autonomous industrial communities forming part and parcel of the nation, culminating in ‘Labourisation of industry’ iv. Provision of work with living wage to every individual through maximum industrialisation of the nation. (b) With a view to enable the workers to strive successfully for the ultimate realisation of the above objects and to strengthen them, in the meanwhile, to make their own contribution to the cause of protecting and promoting their interest consistent with those of the community:
v. To assist workers in organising themselves in trade unions as a medium of service to the motherland irrespective of faiths and political affinities. vi. To guide, direct, supervise and coordinate the activities of the affiliated unions. vii. To assist the affiliated unions in the formation of state BMS units and Industrial Federations as constituent units of the BMS and viii. To bring about unity in the trade union movement. (c) To secure and preserve for the workers:
ix. The right to work, the right for security of service and for social security, the right to conduct trade union activities and the right to strike as a last resort after having exhausted other legitimate methods of trade unionism for redressal of grievances. x. Improvement in conditions of work, life and social and industrial status. xi. A living wage consistent with a national minimum and due share in the profits in their respective industries as partners. xii. Other appropriate amenities xiii. Expeditious enforcement and appropriate amendment of existing labour legislation in their interest and xiv. Enactment of new labour laws from time to time in consultation with the labour representatives. (d) To inculcate in the minds of the workers the spirit of service, cooperation and dutifulness and develop in them a sense of responsibility towards the nation in general and industry in particular (e) To educate the labour by organising worker’s training classes, study circles, guest lectures, seminars, symposia, excursions etc., in cooperation with institutions and organisations having similar aims and objects such as the Central Board of Workers Education. Labour Research Centre, Universities etc., and also to maintain libraries. (f) To publish or cause publication of journals, periodicals, pamphlets, pictures, books and many other types of literature mainly concerning labour and their interests and to purchase, sell & circulate them. (g) To establish, encourage and organise Labour Research Centres and similar activities. (h) Generally to take such other steps as may be necessary to ameliorate the social, economic, cultural, civic and general conditions of the workers. For sound health of workers and society BMS has been against the use of any type of drugs, liquor, alcohol and smoking. (i) To render assistance or to establish cooperative societies, welfare institutions, clubs etc., for the overall welfare of the common man in general and the workers and their families in particular.
National Labour Day
India has a heritage of thousands of year where the dignity of labour as well as those of labourers was well established. The dire need of the hour is to re-establish the same - the Dignity of Labour by observing our own labour day. As also, most of the Nations have their National Labour Day. National Labour Day was rediscovered to be on Vishwakarma Jayanti, Vishwakarma, being the first craftsman – artisan, sculptor, and engineer - and in fact the traditional symbol of hard labour. This falls on Kanya Sankranti of each year. BMS, since its inception, has been observing Vishwakarma Jayanti – on 17 September of English Calendar Year as National Labour Day.
While functioning since 1955 it has given to the labour movement new slogans benefiting its ideology:
- Bharat Mata Ki Jai
- We will work in the interest of the country and will take full wage for the work done (Desh ki hit me kam karenge, kam ki lenge poore dham)
- The sacrifice, penance and martyrdom are identification of BMS (BMS ki kya pehchan, Tyag, Tapasya aur Balidan)
- Understand the value of Capital and Labour is equal and same (Paise aur pasine ki kimmat samjo ek samaan).
- Workers unite the world (Mazdooron duniya ko ek karo)
- Industrialise the nation, Nationalise the Labour, Labourise the Industry (Rashtra Udyogikaran, Sharamik ka Rashtriyakaran, Udyog ka Mazdoorikaran)
- Bonus to all wage earners – as deferred wage (Sabi Vetanbogiyonko der se diya hua vetan ki roop me bonus)
- Stop discrimination. Income-ratio should be one and ten. (Bed-bhav bandh karo. Aay ka anupath Ek aur Dus ho)
New trends in the trade union movement
BMS has contributed quite a few new ideas which have virtually become trend setters.
The non-political nature of BMS has now gained currency and has become acceptable not only in India but also abroad. The XII World Trade Union Congress of WFTU, held in Moscow, in 1990, adopted a document to this effect.
BMS doesn't believe in class concept and rejects the class theory propounded by Marx. Instead its struggle and fight is against the injustice on workers from whatever quarters.
Being non-political, its attitude towards any democratically elected government is governed by the principle of “Responsive Co-operation”.
BMS idea of “Labourisation” of Industries – a stage where workers would collectively own and manage the industrial units has initiated a national debate on it. This experiment has been successfully undertaken in New Central Jute Mills, West Bengal.
New Economic Policy (NEP) and New Industrial Policy (NIP)
While opposing the above policies BMS was first to give slogan for 2nd war of economic independence. At the same time it has suggested some positive alternatives. It has vigorously condemned the abject surrender to the conditionality of the IMF and WB as that would amount to giving up our sovereignty. BMS considers the movement as an opportunity to build up Swadeshi Model of Economy. Hence it has inspired movement for the use of Swadeshi (Indigenous) Products as against the foreign or MNC products.
It has offered to cooperate in turning the loss making PSUs profitable where practicable, it has agreed to induce the workers to take up their unit to run them on sound lines.
To curb excessive profiteering, which is the main culprit behind price rise; it has suggested that the Government should take steps to make the consumer aware of the cost of production of each product to daily use. This awareness will serve as a watch dog to restrain the prices.
BMS is also of the view that for creating enough job opportunities, agricultural development should get more attention as also agro-based and small and tiny industries. Vishwakarma Sector (Self-employment sector) should get more encouragement than at present.
On modern technology, BMS while not being antagonistic would prefer developing our own technology based on indigenous and traditional knowledge to best suit our conditions. From this angle national technology policy should be drawn.
Being one of the most representative organisations of Labour, BMS has a place in the Indian delegation to the annual International Labour Conference held by ILO at GENEVA every year.
Being largest Central Trade Union Organisation of India, BMS is leading the Indian Labour delegation to ILO, Geneva each year on behalf of Indian workforce.
Special Session of United Nations Organisation was held on 5–9 June 2000 in New York on “Women 2000, Gender Equality, Development and Peace for 21st Century”. Kum. Suchitra Mahapatra of BMS participated on behalf of Indian Women workforce.
It works in close relations with the ILO office in Delhi, participating in all its national and regional level seminars / workshops, its endeavour being to contribute its best.
BMS is not affiliated with any International Confederation but maintains cordial relation with all such organisations.
Instead of giving call for the workers of the world to unite, it has given a call to the workers all over, to unite the world.
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