Ambedkar’s labour activism was carried out through his association with the Bombay Textile Labour Union, which was formed in 1925 by the moderates such as N.M. Joshi and R.R. Bakhale. In the textile mill weaving departments that paid the highest wages, Dalits were excluded from working due to “pollution”. Ambedkar highlighted this issue during the famous 1928 Bombay Textile strike. His demands were accepted.
What Ambedkar learned from the strike?
Ambedkar contended that the 1928 strike had pushed Dalit workers towards indebtedness and extreme indignance. Moreover, unlike the non-Dalit workers, Dalits did not have farmlands to rely upon during long drawn strikes. Therefore, Dalits were not in a position to join yet another long-drawn strike. Ambedkar also opposed the 1934 Bombay textile strike organised by the Communists for similar reasons.
Fight through democratic means
Ambedkar established the Independent Labour Party (ILP) in 1936 with an agenda to fight the social, economic and political rights of the working class. Following its success in the 1937 provincial elections, the ILP remained at the forefront in opposing the Industrial Disputes Act of 1938.
Fight in the “den of ignorance”, as referred by Ambedkar for Indian Villages