Unions Mourn Passing Of Manohar Kotwal

ITF President Paddy Crumlin has passed on his condolences following the passing of Manohar Kotwal early this morning at the age of 96.

"Brother Kotwal was a dignified, courageous, progressive and tireless advocate and activist for the Indian Dockworkers and broader international labour movement he devoted his life to," Mr Crumlin said.

"He inspired his members and international workers to continue to fight for labour and social justice and a truly democratic and representative trade union movement.

"He was loved and respected and will be greatly missed.

"Together with the General Secretary of the ITF, David Cockroft, please pass on my personal deepest condolences to the Kotwal family and to the members, officers and staff of the union on behalf the International Transport Workers' Federation and the ITF affiliates that represent them.

"Vale Comrade, now at rest."

Brother M.G. Kotwal was Senior Vice President, Transport & Dock Workers Union, Mumbai.

A trade unionist of national and international repute, Brother Kotwal was associated with the dockers movement in Mumbai since its early days in the late 1940s.

He was the first worker-member on the Bombay Dock Labour board in the absence of the legendary dockers leader Com. P.D'Mello who was in prison at that time.

Bro. Kotwal also represented the Indian dockers for many years on the ITF Dockers Section Committee and its Fair Practices Committee.

In 2000, he was elected the Chair of the ITF Asia Pacific Dockers Section, a position he held for many years.

Bro. Kotwal did not confine himself only to trade unions of workers in the organised industries.

He built up a powerful union of head load workers (mathadi) in the rural areas of Maharashtra and led many of their successful strikes.

Bro. Kotwal was associated with the Hind Mazdoor Sabha (HMS) since its founding conference in 1948.

He later served on its Executive Committee for many years and then as General Secretary from 1963 to 1966.

"In the death of Bro. Kotwal the transport workers trade union movement in India has lost a father figure," said Mahendra Sharma from ITF Asia Pacific.

"But the rich legacy of his work that he leaves behind will continue to be source of inspiration and guidance to the trade unions of today and tomorrow.

"We bow our heads in reverence and pray that his soul may rest in peace."