Indian Workers' Association
The Indian Workers' Association (IWA) is a political organisation in Great Britain which consists of Indian immigrants to Britain and their descendants. IWA branches are organised in some major cities such as Birmingham and London. Their activity includes anti-racism campaigning, industrial action, social work within immigrant communities, and film shows. Their members included Udham Singh, and they focused on agitating for Indian independence. After this was achieved, the groups became largely moribund. The organisation's journal (Lalkar) is now edited by Chairman of the Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist–Leninist), Harpal Brar. However Lalkar is now an independent journal. The IWA (GB) is continuing support for struggles amongst workers in the Asian community in the UK and revolutionary change in India.
The first Indian Workers' Association was founded in London in the 1930s, while another was set up in Coventry in 1938. Set up by immigrant workers from India. Shaheed Udham Singh, a member of the famous Ghadar Party also facilitated the founding of the original Indian Workers Association(GB). The organisation has been fairly active in supporting working class struggles amongst asians in Britain and struggles for genuine freedom for working people in India. Notable activists have been Jagmohan Joshi, Harpal Brar, Salvinder Dhillon and Dalwinder Atwal. Remembering patriots of the Ghadar Party and supporting struggles for creation of a society in line with vision of Shaheed Udham Singh, Shaheed Bhagat Singh, Shaheed Kartar Singh Sarabha and other Patriots of the Ghadar Party has been the focus of activity.
In 1958, the Indian Workers' Association (GB) (IWA (GB)) was set up to provide a central national body co-ordinating the activities of the local groups. The Association aimed to improve conditions for immigrant workers, working alongside the mainstream British labour movement. An increasing number of activists, in particular from the Punjabi community, joined. The Communist Party of Great Britain also gained influence, as some of the immigrants had formerly been members of the Communist Party of India. However, the large group in Southall distanced itself from the national body, supporting Labour Party candidates, joined the Campaign Against Racial Discrimination and supported the National Committee for Commonwealth Immigrants. Piara Khabra became President of the Southall group, and later, Labour MP for Ealing Southall.
Split in the IWA (GB)
In 1967, the IWA (GB) split into two groups. One, led by Prem Singh, supported the Communist Party of India (Marxist), while the other, under Jagmohan Joshi, supported Naxalbari Movement. This second group began working with Black Power activists, but later disappeared. The Singh group thus became the only IWA (GB), joining the Black People's Alliance. The organisation later supported the Anti-Nazi League.
In the 1990s they worked with the Shaheed Udham Singh Welfare Trust to campaign for the release of Last Words of Udham Singh, after he was sentenced to death for assassinating Michael O'Dwyer, the former lieutenant governor of the Punjab in India, at the time of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre in Amritsar in 1919 This campaign was successful in 1996.
The organisation is still quite active in supporting struggles for socialism in the UK and India.
- Singh Sahota, Teja; Singh Johal, Avtar; Singh Kirti, Karam (n.d.). Udham Singh's Last words "Down with British Imperialism". Shaheed Udham Singh Welfare Trust.
- Peter Barberis, John McHugh and Mike Tyldesley, Encyclopedia of British and Irish Political Organizations
- Indian Workers Association GB