The Indian trade union movement of the interwar years was marked by an increasing tension between reformist and revolutionary methods. The two factions shared an internationalist idiom and internationalist aspirations, but their visions of the postimperialist world order were crucially different. The reformists advocated inclusion of India’s labour leaders in the international system, whereas the revolutionaries sought to harness international workers’ solidarity to overthrow it. The Meerut Conspiracy Case exacerbated these tensions in AITUC by specifically targeting left-wing trade union leaders and by including international trade union bodies in the indictment. AITUC split during the first year of the case, and it fragmented further as the case progressed. Stolte’s article views Meerut as a case in which trade unionism itself was put on trial. It made emerging (re)definitions of revolutionary and reformist trade unionism explicit, and it situated both in an international environment and on divergent international trajectories. During the Meerut case, trade union politics were debated inside and outside the courtroom. This worsened the tensions between reformist and revolutionary trade unionism. First, the indictment created “good” and “seditious” international interlocutors for the unionists. Second, the reformist methods of seeking inclusion in the ILO and other existing European bodies were vocally attacked by the Meerut accused. Finally, the accused stayed in conversation with the revolutionary leadership of the AITUC throughout the trial. The debates on trade unionism thus created were decisive in making the Nagpur split permanent.
Skip Nav Destination
Research Article| December 01 2013
Trade Unions on Trial: The Meerut Conspiracy Case and Trade Union Internationalism, 1929-32
Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East (2013) 33 (3): 345–359.
Carolien Stolte; Trade Unions on Trial: The Meerut Conspiracy Case and Trade Union Internationalism, 1929-32. Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East 1 December 2013; 33 (3): 345–359. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/1089201X-2378130
Download citation file:
Don't already have an account? Register
You could not be signed in. Please check your email address / username and password and try again.
Could not validate captcha. Please try again.
Sign in via your InstitutionSign In
Citing articles via
“Where National Revolutionary Ends and Communist Begins”: The League against Imperialism and the Meerut Conspiracy Case