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home \ Trade Union Movement in Kuttanad

In the early days the landlords ruled the land and the landless labourers earned their living not by earning wages but by becoming share-croppers. The landlords were not interested in improving Agriculture and their extravagant lifestyles led to discrepancies within the labourer section.

During the time of Independence in 1947, a peasant movement led by the first agricultural labor union was formed in Kerala. The King of Travancore pursued a policy under which the ownership of rights on land was gradually conferred on tenants to reduce the power of the feudal chieftains of the Kuttanad region in the early twentieth century.

The Tenants retained the surplus and reinvested it to improve agricultural production. With the increasing numbers of casual laborers for money wages, the labour market swelled, and the growth of capitalism led to a polarization of classes in agriculture. A trade union was formed under the patronage of the left-wing leaders of the Indian National Congress who subsequently constituted themselves into the Communist Party of India (CPI).

The trade union leaders of the neighbouring industrial town of Alleppey started organizing the agricultural workers in Kuttanad and slowly but steadily the trade union movement among agricultural workers spread from the Kuttanad region to other regions of Kerala.