Royal Commission on Labour in India: Report(1929)||
There still remains for consideration the question of regulating the relations between the Railway Board and administrations and the All-India Railwaymen's Federation and individual trade unions. This involves the right of workers to make full use of whatever machinery is available for bringing forward and remedying grievances and disputes of every description. Whether by direct appeal to superior officers, by means of joint committees or by trade union agency, the workers must feel that complaints will receive due consideration. In order that no sense of grievance or cause for dispute may remain outstanding, we consider the time has arrived to set up joint standing machinery that, as far as possible, will incorporate methods already in existence. While appreciating the efforts hitherto made to provide means of discussion and settlement of matters in dispute between the administrations and their employees, we cannot help noticing the absence of co-ordination between the different agencies. At the base of the present structure are joint committees and individual trade unions competing for the goodwill of the workers. The committees receive support from the local officers of administrations, some of whom give little or no active encouragement to the local trade union movement, which as a rule is in opposition to the present system of joint committees. At the apex of the structure, on the other hand, are the Railway Board and the All-India Railwaymen's Federation discussing schemes for improving the conditions of workers, with no visible link on the employers' side between the local conciliation machinery and the negotiating agency at the top. This is not due to the fact that no intervening machinery exists, for, apart from the Agents of Class I railways with whom the Railway Board holds periodical discussions, there exists another co-ordinating agency in the Indian Railway Conference Association which dates back to 1879 and has met regularly since 1902. Besides meeting annually to discuss inter alia questions of uniformity in dealing with staff matters, this Association appoints standing and special committees which in recent years have considered difficult questions such as the application of the Hours of Work and the Weekly Rest Conventions. The Railway Board informs us that " the powers of the Association are only consultative so far as these matters are concerned, but there is every likelihood that the facilities for round-table discussion which the Association provides will in future be realised to a. greater extent in the solution of the many problems which are arising in the sphere of railway labour ". This indicates a development with which we are in sympathy.