Monday, June 13, 2011

89 Estate Strikes in 1947 - An Average of Two Strikes Weekly

There was a reason for eliminating two top leaders of Pan Malayan Federation of Trade Union (PMFTU) - P. Veerasenan  and S.A Ganapathy on May 3rd and 4th 1949 respectively. Since the formation of union movements in rubber plantation estates, British planters to lose million of pounds.
So how much protests and strikes were organised by PMFTU yearly in average basis? To answer this question, Singapore Strait Times reported a news of the strikes on Friday, 9th April 1948.
Strait Times - 9th April 1949

89 Estate Strikes 
From Our Correspondent
The supply of the cheap and plentiful rice together with a stabilisation of wages at an economical level would go a long way to settling labour unrest in Malaya.
This statement is contained in the annual report of the United Planting Association of Malaya to be presented at its annual general meeting to be held in Kuala Lumpur on April 23.
During 1947, the association was notified of 89 strikes a great number of which, the report states were engineered by paid agitators.
There were 49 estates trade union to date, some of which functioned on estate or State basis while a few were Malaya-wide in character.
Since September, last year the report continues, considerable progress had been made by these unions. most of them had reorganised and regrouped and were making slow headway in the theirs fight against outside control and domination from the Pan Malaya Federation of Trade Union.

British High Commissioner of Malaya  - Henry Gurney

89 Strikes - A "great number" worrying the British! 

With more than 300,000 of labour in PMFTU, weekly 2 strikes were arranged in week along 1947. Clearly shows the amount of co-ordination and communication existed among the cadres of PMFTU. 
On the other side, these strikes would resulted to lost amounting to millions of pounds to British planters in Malaya. The British planters associations started to pressurize the Bristish High Commissioner to Malaya, Henry Gurney to put a stop to this. Emergency law was introduced and unionist were hunted down. Some were deported to India, some were shot dead like P. Veerasenan and some were hanged to death like S.A Ganapathy. 

Apart from that, the report also stated progress of the unions (which may intended to create dilution among the public) "making slow headway in their fight against outside control and domination from the Pan Malaya Federation of the Trade Union".
A statement intended to prove that PMFTU losing their ground in fighting for labourers. The British wanted to show that PMFTU was much more interested in "capturing" Malaya from the British.

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