The greatest force in Singapore’s decolonisation movement in the 1950s was organised labour. Workers coming together to fight to be treated as human beings provided the main impetus for change. But the colonial capitalist system was built on oppressing, abusing, overworking, and exploiting workers, and so the only way to gain workers’ rights was to change the government. But where did the labour movement come from? In this episode, PJ Thum goes back to the origins of the labour movement in Singapore. He explains how traditional forms of labour organisation were also explicitly political; how modern trade unionism arrived from Britain, China, India, and the Dutch East Indies (Indonesia); and the impact of political labour on Singapore in the first quarter of the 20th century.
Please send questions, comments, and feedback to [email protected] or visit thehistoryofsingapore.com.All episodes in The History of Singapore" series can be accessed here:&