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Labor Unions and Corporate Power in India

Source: Truthout

Despite the economic gains India has made over the last 30 years, it’s important to note that its story, while impressive, is no glittering fairy tale. Although the country has made extraordinary progress, the notion that India is anywhere close to establishing even a fledgling "middle-class" is wildly farfetched. The reality of India is that poverty and misery continue to haunt the sub-continent. The reality is that 400 million Indians are illiterate, that universal rural electrification (promised to be in place by 1990) is still out of reach, that infant mortality rates and child malnutrition are alarming problems and that nonunion factory workers are still being exploited. Indeed, as more international pressure is brought to bear on Indian companies, more liberties are being taken with the industrial work force.

As for union workers, the case can be made that – cultural differences aside – India’s labor unions are almost identical in temperament and outlook to what American unions were 100 years ago. The Indian economy is robust, companies are expanding, manufacturing jobs are plentiful and entrepreneurial confidence is sky high – just as it was in the US a century ago. And just as it was in America a century ago, Indian unions are learning that, prosperity and rosy predictions notwithstanding, they have to fight and claw for every last nickel. read more