Bombay Dock Workers Union

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The Bombay Dock Workers’ Union, which was founded by M R Shetty, Maniben Kara and others in 1932, was one of the most militant organisations of dock workers in that era, when organising a trade union was considered by the British government as a conspiracy. The union was founded to help the freedom struggle under the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi. In response to his call for boycotting British goods, a massive agitation was launched in the docks by workers[ii]. One such patriot worker was Babu Genu who lied down in front on the road of the Masjid Bunder railway station to prevent trucks laden with British goods. He sacrificed his life in this agitation when he was crushed under the truck by the police.

M R Shetty under the aegis of this union, organised the boycott of ships carrying British cloth and dumped bales of cloth into the sea (Bogaert: 36) He organised the dock workers in the port of Bombay to boycott ships carrying British goods. In fact the first ever strike in support of the freedom struggle was organised under the banner of Bombay Dock Workers’ Union for nearly three weeks in 1932. The British government adopted repressive measures against dock workers and in the process the Bombay Dock Workers’ Union was also made defunct and little was heard of it till about 1946. Later the union was revived as Transport & Dock Workers’ Union by Placid D Mello.

For Further Reading:

Dock Workers in Bombay: Role of the Nationalist Movement and Beyond in EPW, Vol. 50, Issue No. 30, 25 Jul, 2015 by Shubhankita Ojha