Royal Commission on Labour in India: Report(1929)||
From this necessarily brief survey of recent and contemporary history we turn to questions of future policy and development. Here it is wise to recognise at the outset the difficulties which confront those who are endeavouring to build up the movement. To a large extent the obstacles to development are internal rather than external—they come from labour itself. In the first place, the migratory character of the bulk of Indian labour presents a serious obstacle. Those who are frequently leaving an industrial centre, even for short spells, and are frequently changing their employer, are less inclined than more permanent workers to maintain a constant interest in any organisation. Further, the fact that so many workers look forward to a proximate or ultimate escape from industry tends to diminish their enthusiasm for efforts to ameliorate their conditions and to enhance their readiness to tolerate disabilities. The present conditions of industrial life in India are not conducive to the unflagging endeavour which proved so necessary in the West for the maintenance of trade unions; those whose wages and leisure are barely adequate for sustained work in the factory are not likely to find energy or leisure for activity outside it. It is not difficult to trace a correlation between the strength of the movement in particular centres and industries and the degree of permanence and regularity which characterises the labour force. Another serious handicap is the poverty of the average worker, to whom even a small subscription can be an appreciable burden, particularly when he is already encumbered by debt. Except in times of great stress, few unions can secure adequate funds without external assistance. An additional obstacle arises from the divisions which run across the lines on which trade unionism must develop. Difference of language and race are separating factors, and to these is frequently added the active opposition of the jobbers, or their equivalent, to anything resembling a horizontal organisation.