Context: All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC), the first Central Trade Union of India founded on October 31, 1920, has completed hundred years of its formation recently.


  • Emergence of a class of casual general labour: The beginning of the labour upsurge against oppression and exploitation goes back to the second half of the nineteenth century. 
  • Impoverished peasantry and landless labour force: 
    • The self-sufficient Village economy was shattered with no new structures in place.
    • The dumping of cheap industrial goods resulting in millions of artisans, spinners, weavers, etc, who could no longer live on agriculture also turned into landless labourers. 
  • Widespread famines: This led to widespread famines in India through the period from 1850 to 1890 resulting in deaths of several lakhs and also reducing millions as beggars.
  • This background did help the 1857 revolt: By princely states and the common masses against the disempowering policies of British rule.
  • The October Revolution (1917) in Russia: During the First World War was a great impetus for Indian labour movement as the working class along with peasantry captured power for the first time in the history of mankind.
  • Strikes in India: In 1918 great strikes in cotton mills of Bombay started and soon it spread to other areas. The strike against the Rowlatt Act had a great impact on the national struggle itself. 

Formation of AITUC

  • Convention in Bombay: It was in this background that the preparations began and a convention was held in Bombay which decided to hold All India Trade Union Congress in Bombay.
  • Founding conference (or the first session): 
    1. Began on October 31, 1920, in Empire Theatre Bombay with Lala Lajpat Rai as the founding President.
    2. Other leaders participated: Political leaders of various shades of opinions such as Moti Lal Nehru, Mohd. Ali Jinnah, Annie Basant, V J Patel, B.P. Wadia, J. Baptista, Lalubhai Samaldas, Jamnadas, Dwarka Das, B W Wadia R R Karandikar, Col. J.C. Wedgwood.
  • About AITUC: 
    1. It is the oldest trade union federations in India. 
    2. Until 1945 when unions became organised on party lines, it was the primary trade union organisation in India. 
    3. Since then, it has been associated with the Communist Party of India.
    4. In the aftermath of the second World War the AITUC played a significant role in the foundation of the World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU).

In the last 10 decades since its founding, the AITUC has been at the forefront of all struggles for bringing about changes in favour of the working class.  

Source: National Herald