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The Spirit of Growth

Nowhere in the history of Indian industrial relations has the concept of creative collective bargaining been better exemplified than in the harmony that characterises the Tata Steel Union's relationship with the steel major. It is 'The Perfect Partnership', one that has evolved for 100 years.

Over this period of differences and reconciliation; over tensions, contentions and resolution; over visionary concern for each other's well-being; overcoming monumental changes in India's industrial structure and cataclysmic developments of moving from a closed economy to an open, liberal industrial economy, the Labour Association, was born in 1920 as the first avatar of the dynamic stalwart of today.

Its relationship with the Tata Steel management is one that has strengthened and blossomed, in what is best described as 'A Century of Unity'.

Highlights of a historic journey

  1. 1920s

    1920s: Jamshedpur Labour Association established

    1922s: Second strike launched and management withdrew its recognition

    1925s: Conciliation committee with C R Das as Chairman formed. to break the deadlock. Mahatma Gandhi visited Jamshedpur and recognition of the Union was restored

    1928s: Subhas Chandra Bose inducted as President

    TISCO witnessed strike for the last time and thus ushering an era of Industrial Harmony

    Gandhi's message to workers, 1925

    It was my ambition to see one of the greatestif not the greatest – Indian enterprises in India, and study the conditions of work here. But none of my activities is one-sided, and as my religion begins and ends with truth and nonviolence, my identification with labour does not conflict with my friendship with labour... ...And believe me, throughout my public service of 35 years, though I have been obliged to range myself seemingly against capital, capitalists have in the end regarded me as their true friend. And in all humility I may say that I have come here also as a friend of the capitalists - a friend of the Tatas.

  2. 1930s

    1934: Profit Sharing Bonus was introduced

    1938: Jamshedpur Labour association re-christened as Tata Workers' Union

    1939: Jawaharlal Nehru and Rajendra Prasad visited Jamshedpur to further strengthen the Union - Management harmony

    Jamshedpur as an industrial centre has a special importance because it is an epitome of India and people from all provinces congregate there. It should be the object of every wellwisher of labour to build up an ideal labour organization there.
    The Company is helping labour not only by recognizing their association but also by collecting monthly subscriptions on pay day on behalf of the Labour Association

  3. 1940s

    1942: Tata Workers' Union leaders took active part in the 1942 Quit India Movement

    1945: Study Leave introduced

    1946: The Agreement of 1946 signed

    1947: Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru wrote to JRD Tata "I am also glad that you have taken further steps to remove discontent and re-establish the morale of the workers"

    1947: Personnel Division of Tata Steel formed

    1948: TWU opened unit for the Supervisors and Technicians

  4. 1950s

    1954: Tata Workers' Union introduced sickness benefit scheme for members

    1956: The famous Agreement of 1956 signed

    Jawaharlal Nehru's message to workers, 1958

    I wanted to come not only because of the importance of this great steel works here and this city Jamshedpur, but even more so because this place has become symbolic in some ways of the growth of Indian industry.

  5. 1960s

    1962: TWU run two high schools for the education of member's children. Government of Bihar took over the charge of these schools later

    1969: Memorandum of Settlement was signed between the Management and the TWU

  6. 1970s

    1977: Michael John, President TWU passed away on August 3, 1977

    1977: TWU opposed the Government of India's plan to nationalize Tata Steel

    1978: Life Cover Scheme was introduced

    1978: Tata Workers Union moves into their building on March 19, 1978

    1970s: Wage Agreements were signed between the Management and TWU in 1970, 1975, 1978

  7. 1980s

    1980: The first Social Audit Report submitted

    1980: Sick Leave Encashment Scheme introduced

    1983: Wage Agreement signed between Management and TWU

    1984: Michael John Centre for Research and Human Resources development set up

    1987: TWU's Information Centre and Library inaugurated on January 1

    1989: Pension Scheme introduced

    1989: TWU's in house journal "Mazdoor Awaz" commenced publication

    1989: Wage Agreement signed between the Management and the TWU

  8. 1990s

    1990: Medical Separation Scheme introduced

    1995: Employees Family Benefit Scheme (E.F.B.S) launched

    1995: Early Separation Scheme introduced

    1995: Memorandum of Settlement between Management and TWU

    1999: Wage Agreement signed between the Management and TWU

  9. 2000s

    2001: Wage Agreement signed between the Management and TWU

    2001: Family Benefit Scheme launched

    2002: Shabash launched. The company took another remarkable step in extending its appreciation to its employees with the launch of "Shabash", a new scheme for instant rewards and recognition for significant contribution by unionised employees

    2003: Bonus agreement signed

    2003: RD Tata Technical Training Centre established

    2004: 75 Years of Industrial Harmony celebrated

    2008: Memorandum of Understanding signed between Management and TWU for Annual Bonus for the accounting year 2007-08

  10. 2010s

    2012: Suraksha Scheme for Contract Labour introduced in 2012

    2014: Family Support Scheme introduced

    2016: Tata Steel bags the 'National Award for Outstanding Achievement in Industrial Relations' by All India Organisation of Employers (AIOE)

    2019: Paternity BenefitScheme introduced

Leadership at the helm

Tata Workers' Union has always given a stable leadership with continuous guidance, which is its major strength. Between 1920 and 2006 there were only nine Presidents, in contrast to other national trade union organisations. The Tata Workers' Union has always given utmost importance to their collective bargaining with a participative management to maintain industrial prosperity and harmony.

Labour conditions - welfare at the heart

In 1924, the Jamshedpur Labour Association published a pamphlet titled 'Appeal to Members of the Indian Legislature and Public of India'. It complained about absence of weekly rest days, long working hours, no housing benefits, low wages to women employees, no maternity leave, racism by covenanted staff.

In 1927, TISCO put on record labour conditions in a letter to T Shaw, Member of Parliament:

  • Wages of unskilled men - 7 to 12 annas
  • Wages of unskilled women - 5 to 7 annas
  • Wages of semi-skilled workers - 1 rupee 12 annas per day
  • Wages of monthly paid workers - Rs700 per month
  • Maternity benefits were under consideration
  • There were 3 shifts of 8 hours each - officers and supervisors worked general shifts
  • Overtime was paid as per Factories Act
  • Fines were being eliminated
  • Accident compensations were being paid
  • There were 275 bungalows for covenanted staff, 5,290 'pucca' quarters for workers and families
  • Company had set up schools, cooperative societies and one main hospital with 72 beds

75 years of industrial harmony

In 2004, Tata Workers' Union together with the Management celebrated 75 years of glorious industrial harmony. The presence of President A P J Abdul Kalam on this historic occasion was an inspiration to both Management and the Union to strengthen and sustain their cordial relationship for years to come - a relationship built firmly on mutual cooperation, coordination and understanding. The combined contribution of the Management and the Union was celebrated with the cutting of a cake jointly by the leaders.

A union of hearts and minds

As TWU celebrates its centenary of unity, the unique relationship between the Management and the Union comes to the fore. Acclaimed as a world-class steelmaker, Tata Steel has achieved this inimitable distinction with close consultation and participation from all its employees. The progress and welfare of the Union and the Company are inextricably linked: a mature management that shares its prosperity with the workers and looks after their well-being, and a responsible Union that responds unfailingly to the Company's requirements. This harmonious relationship has been sustained through many ups and downs and helped Tata Steel become a global force to reckon with in the world of steel.


  • Employee Care

  • Work as a Team

  • Utilize everyone's knowledge

  • Open Communications

  • Acknowledge efforts

  • Support Education & Training


  • Environment of mutual respect

  • Honesty and Integrity

  • Excellence

  • Faith in Democratic Values, Trust and Cooperation

  • Reliability and Accountability

Journey of transformation

Minimum wages: Gone up progressively from Rs 13 per month in 1920 to Rs 8080 per month in 2008.

Average annual earnings: Gone up from Rs 780 in 1939-40 to Rs 9200 in 1977-78

Gratuity: Effective from November 1970, the retiring gratuity was revised entitling employees to one month's wages for every completed year of service in excess of 33 years.

Incentive bonus scheme: Introduced in all production and maintenance departments in 1948. Since 1 August 1975, employees not covered by departmental incentive bonus schemes are covered by the plant-wide bonus scheme.

Life cover scheme: Since 1 April 1976, in the event of death of an employee before retirement, his nominee is entitled to an amount under this scheme, which together with the retiring gratuity, shall equal 20 months' salary, provided the amount in addition to the normal gratuity is not be less than Rs 11000.

Workmen's compensation: Since January 1974, in the event of rehabilitation of an employee in a lower grade arising out of an accident, his substantive rate in the former grade is protected. Wages paid to employees during accident leave period are not deducted from the compensation paid on account of partial or total disablement.

Workers' development: Michael John was one of the longest-serving members of the Union, three decades at the helm. After his death Tata Workers' Union felt that it was necessary to perpetuate his memory for his invaluable contribution to the working class movement that would help educate the workers. With an initial donation of Rs1 lakh from JRD Tata towards the Union􀀾s Diamond Jubilee in 1982, the Michael John Centre for Research & Human Resource Development was set up. JRD Tata was invited to deliver to inaugural Michael John Memorial Lecture in 1985.

Key Agreements

Agreement of 1948 - paving the way for an era of conciliation

After a prolonged struggle for a decade and repeated strike threats in 1945 and 1946, an Agreement was signed in February 1948 by the Union and the Management which not only secured higher wages and better working conditions but also significantly stipulated the formation of joint committees with equal representation to ensure better understanding and settlement of disputes by negotiations. Before the advent of this new era of conciliation, Prof. Bari passed away under tragic circumstances on March 28, 1947.

Agreement of 1956

The famous Agreement of 1956 been hailed as the 'Magna Carta' of the working class and reckoned as a landmark in the history of the trade union movement in India. Besides the usual benefits, it secured the workers by way of higher wages, more houses, improved medical facilities and so on. The Agreement laid down a threetier programme of closer association of employees with management. At the bottom, departmental councils were formed with equal representation of workers and officers; at the middle, Joint Works Council and Joint Town Council were constituted and at the apex Joint Consultative Council of Management was set up. Another feature of this Agreement was the introduction of a streamlined grievance procedure that aimed at redressing individual grievances in the shortest possible time at the lowest possible level. A provision of far-reaching importance incorporated in the Agreement was banning retrenchment as a result of any rationalisation scheme in TISCO. Further, redundant labour was to be provided with training and retraining facilities and absorbed in suitable jobs without any monetary loss.