P D Mello

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P D'Mello was a prominent trade union leader of the Bombay Dock Workers Union. He joined the trade union movement in the year 1946 and initially focussed on the dock and port workers but later also mobilised the municipal employees, BEST workers and workers in the hotel industry. He was also a part of the Samyukta Maharashtra Movement. He was one of the founding members of the Radical Democratic Party which he left to join the Praja Socialist Party and finally the Socialist Party. As a representative of the dock workers he was a Trustee of the Bombay Port Trust. During the early 1940s the dock workers were organised under different unions which were mostly department wise but P D'Mello organised them under a single union. In the year 1952 he was arrested under Preventive Detention Act and was kept at Nashik jail for one and a half year. He was lovingly called 'Sher-e-Dock' by the dock workers.

After the Independence of India, P. D'Mello along with S.R. Kulkarni organised a struggle against the toliwalla system in the Bombay port. The toliwalla system was the practice of getting loading and unloading work done at the port through labour contractors. A demand was made for decasualisation of dock workers as recommended by the Royal Commission of Labour of 1931, i.e. to abolish the contract system and absorb all such labourers in the port as permanent employees. During the time of the struggle, Dr. B.R Ambedkar was the Labour Minister and he was supportive of the demand of the Bombay port workers to abolish the contract system. Under workers pressure, the Dock Workers (Regulation of Employment) Act, 1948, was passed. The Act provided for registration of dock workers under schemes framed there under and also contemplated the constitution of advisory committees to implement the schemes. On 1st January 1949, the shore side workers were absorbed as direct employees of the Bombay port.

He died on 21st March, 1958 at the age of 40 years in Calcutta where he had gone for a trade union meeting and was buried at the Sewri cemetery.