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The Workers' Union

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In the Year of the Youth, the author took up a research project on young industrial workers. It involved comparing young and old workers. Two industries producing the same machines at similar technological level were selected. One belonged to the private sector and the other to the public sector. While the latter was started a decade later than the former, it had achieved greater expansion. Both were located in the same state.

After we obtained necessary permission to conduct our study, we reached the mofussil town where the private sector industry was located. Before we could launch our study, as a matter of principle, we wanted to meet the General Secretary of the workers' union. The Personnel Department was not willing for this. On our insistence they called the union official. We talked to him for about half an hour but Personnel Department people were all the time hovering around.

So we fixed a time in the evening to meet him in the union office in the town. We visited the union office in the evening. The union was having problem regarding wage deduction of some workers who did not show up for overtime. The overtime notice was short and they had not consented either, even then the management was threatening wage deduction for one week.

The union could hardly do a thing' as they in the past had burnt their hands when they had to unilaterally call off the 106 day old strike in which even their Treasurer had committed suicide. They were scared to the extent that they had productivity linked bonus agreement for even 12% bonus. Moreover, a new minuscue union was recently started in the company.

We visited the new union's office next evening and held a long discussion. They asked for' our suggestions. The union believed in legal battles more than agitations. After a visit to the industry the author visited the state headquarters of the new union. There every office bearer was surprisingly a lawyer. In the HQ we learnt that after we left, their union took out a procession and held a meeting in the temple. Perhaps this was the result of our discussion. While the older union was a prisoner of its past, the new union was free to write its own history. Workers' interests were being served perhaps by both.

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