Now that situation has undergone a tremendous change all over the world on all counts including labour and even the employers have softened their approach while dealing with unions and their leaders, there is no reason why unions can’t behave themselves coping with the requisites of the day. Pragmatism and not dogmatism is the call of the time and it has to be responded equally by the unions and their leaders in a reasoning based order irrespective of the fact whether character wise they are political or non political. In earlier days there was a tendency on the part of union leaders to ridicule and abuse the men in the management. This they did for two reasons –one to show their membership that they were assertively aggressive on their issues and two that they were in no measure pro management in any manner even distantly. This exercise on their part was unnecessary as they very much had the option of being effectively assertive on their points with reasons and logic instead of hurling abuses against their employers. It is true that in earlier times when trade union movement didn’t get fully settled, the very climate of industrial relationship was of a different nature and there was hardly any scope of reasons to prevail as it was illogically a sheer handling with neglect, crudity and barbarism on the part of the management while dealing with employees and their leaders but it was not that much a difficult task to take care of a due attitude after trade unionism was accepted as an established movement all over the world. Fighting robustly on issues is alright as it is the basic mission of a trade union leader but there is no reason why this should be sans cultural values and social etiquette. I had a chance to address several meetings in Kolkata. In one such meeting I was introduced to the audience as the one who was a bold fighter and that I slapped my Agent (Branch Manager) in course of some hot talks on some issues. This was not correct. Bold fighter part was alright but slapping part was far from truth. In fact the leader who introduced me to the huge gathering manufactured this addition at his own to be sure that my personality as a fighter and my recognition as such is duly registered in the minds of the people present there. He was correct in his strategy as there was a thunderous applause continuing for several minutes after his introduction for me was over. Thunderous applause in my meetings was not at all a new thing for me, it was rather a very common feature but this very applause in question was different as it was not for my address which was yet to follow, it was obviously for the reason that the audience jubilantly admired the act of slapping on my part. Kolkata has all along been a junction point for trade union activities and it was this centre which pioneered the cause of trade unionism as a mission. Since Kolkata was the one that fought the very initial battle of trade union movement right from the days of East India Company, the leaders and their followings there still do not find it historically compatible to forget the harassment and tortures so barbarically caused against the workers by the then different managements. History apart, there are colossal changes on cultural footing all over the world and obviously different trade unions too have to culturally adjust themselves in the changed scenario. Art of negotiations lies more in sound arguments and strong logic and involving masculine acrobatics may not be relevant always. Need based collective actions are integrally a must for any trade union but there again what counts more is the amount of relevance the relative issues carry with them. As Mohan Majumdar, the great stalwart of trade union movement in banking industry, always held a view that no language other than force suits any management, this is true and it certainly holds good to represent the inbuilt psychology of almost all the employers all over the world with their traditional indifference and disdain for the workers.
Customs and practices, however, are the strategies evolved to match a particular scenario in a given situation and time and they can never be accepted as a gospel truth for eternity. Inqalab (Inqalab-Zindabad), most favourite a slogan for any trade union, supports change and change is the law of Nature. No management nor even any trade union can survive if it fails to fall in line with the changes, social, political or cultural. Trade unions were born because they were the need of the time. They could make it to survive despite all types of onslaughts perpetrated against them and they are very much a need even today. This need today may not be just in the context of their survival as they have most successfully crossed that stage after innumerable sacrifices, this is more relevant from the point of view that whatever they have achieved after prolonged struggles is maintained on date and equally in days to come. Capability to combat any injustice against the workforce lies in collective strength and this strength can be organised at its best by respective trade unions only. It is just out of question to dispute their relevance. They came into existence because they were the dire necessity and they have to continue as such because they are more relevant in the present day scenario, certainly more so in days to come. This is left to the respective trade unions as to how best they can organise themselves and their ranks in a meaningful direction capable of eliciting results in favour of the work force. (to be continued as Part(3)