Central Organisations of Indian Trade Unions: INTUC, AITUC, HMS, UTUC

11th July 2021 0 By indiafreenotes


Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC) is the trade union wing of the Indian National Congress. It was founded on 3 May 1947 and is affiliated with the International Trade Union Confederation. According to provisional statistics from the Ministry of Labour, INTUC had a membership of 33.3 million in 2013, making it the largest Trade Union in India.


The All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC) is the oldest trade union federation in India. It is associated with the Communist Party of India. According to provisional statistics from the Ministry of Labour, AITUC had a membership of 14.2 million in 2013. It was founded on 31 October 1920 with Lala Lajpat Rai as its first president.

The beginning of the labour upsurge against oppression and exploitation goes back to the second half of nineteenth century, with the emergence of class of casual general labour during British Raj in India. The self-sufficient Village economy was shattered with no new structures in place, creating impoverished peasantry and landless labour force.

The dumping of cheap industrial goods resulting in millions of artisans, spinners, weavers, craftsmen, smelters, smiths, potters, etc., who could no more live on agriculture also turned into landless labourers. 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.

The anguish of impoverished masses, ruined peasantry was up in revolt which resulted in several movements even though crushed by the rulers. This background did help the 1857 revolt by princely states and the common masses against the disempowering policies of British rule.

Till this time trade unionism was not known to workers, they were reacting to extreme exploitative working conditions and very low wages. They formed themselves as ‘jamaats’ which were based more on social caste basis in order to fight back oppression of employers. This was beginning of organization by the workers even though not the trade unions in essence.

From 1905 onwards there was notable advance in the working class actions and it was more and more closing its ranks with the advance of freedom struggle in the country.

In Bombay by Lala Lajpat Rai, Joseph Baptista, N. M. Joshi, Diwan Chaman Lall and a few others and, until 1945 when unions became organised on party lines, it was the primary trade union organisation in India. Since then, it has been associated with the Communist Party of India.

AITUC is governed by a body headed by National President Ramendra Kumar and General Secretary Amarjeet Kaur, both the politician affiliated with Communist Party of India.

“Trade Union Record” is the fortnightly journal of the AITUC.

AITUC is a founder member of the World Federation of Trade Unions. Today, its institutional records are part of the Archives at the Nehru Memorial Museum & Library, at Teen Murti House, Delhi.


The HMS was founded in Howrah in west Bengal on 29 December 1948, by socialists, Forward Bloc followers and independent unionists. Its founders included Basawon Singh (Sinha), Ashok Mehta, R.S. Ruikar, Maniben Kara, Shibnath Banerjee, R.A. Khedgikar, T.S. Ramanujam, V.S. Mathur, G.G. Mehta. R.S. Ruikar was elected president and Ashok Mehta general secretary. HMS absorbed the Royist Indian Federation of Labour and the Hind Mazdoor Panchayat, which was formed in 1948 by socialists leaving the increasingly communist dominated AITUC. In March 1949, HMS claimed to have 380 affiliated unions with a combined membership of 618,802.

According to provisional statistics from the Ministry of Labour, HMS had a membership of 3,342,213 in 2002.(13% of the total trade union membership in the country).

All India Railwaymen’s Federation, the largest trade union in the Indian Railways with a membership of 1.4 million is affiliated with Hind Mazdoor Sabha. All India Port and Dock Workers Federation, the largest trade union representing workers at India’s 12 major government-owned ports is also affiliated with the Hind Mazdoor Sabha.


United Trade Union Congress is a central trade union organisation in India. UTUC is politically tied to Revolutionary Socialist Party. Abani Roy is the general secretary of UTUC. According to provisional statistics from the Ministry of Labour, UTUC had a membership of 383,946 in 2002.

UTUC was founded at an All India Labour Conference in Calcutta, 1 May 1949. The founding president was professor K.T. Shah, a member of the Constituent Assembly from Bombay, and the founding general secretary was Mrinal Kanti Bose, a former AITUC president from Bengal. At the time of its foundation, Bose claimed that the organisation consisted of 236 unions with a combined membership of 347,428.

Initially, UTUC profiled itself as an independent trade union centre, organising members of different leftwing factions. In 1953 the Deputy Labour Minister of India, Abid Ali, estimated the UTUC membership at 384 962. At the time UTUC had 332 affiliated unions.

Thakur Mukand Singh Vaidh of Deoband Village, Jadoda Jutt, Uttar Pradesh served as a president of UTUC UP until April 1981.

UTUC is affiliated to the World Federation of Trade Unions.