Royal Commission on Labour in India: Report(1929)||
Some 1, 600 persons are employed in the rock salt mines of the Punjab. The mines are owned by the Government of India and worked by the Salt Department. In the most important, the Mayo Mine at Khewra, salt is extracted from great chambers in thick seams of almost pure salt, which is cut or blasted from the floor of the chamber, conveyed to a loading station on the haulage road and there loaded into tubs. In some cases this involves women carrying salt in baskets for a considerable distance up and down steep inclines in which rough steps are cut. The chambers are connected by underground haulage worked by steam locomotives. The output of salt is limited only by the demand, which is at present insufficient to keep all the workers employed. As these men are hereditary miners, entirely dependent on the mine for their livelihood, and have no alternative occupation available, the result is a serious degree of under-employment, accentuated by the importation of ticket-of-leave men for loading work at the railway siding. We were informed that the miners were not prepared to undertake this work at the rate offered by the management. We recommend that this matter be re-examined with the object of offering this work to the mine workers and members of the resident community. There was no system of checking the workers who enter the mine or the hours worked. We recommend that an effective check be instituted and that, when a proper register of the workers is available, new workers be prohibited from entering the mine in excess of the numbers necessary to produce the required output. Measures for the relief of under-employment would be facilitated if means were available for effective consultation between the management and the workers. The present body of four lambardars, nominated by the manager, is in our opinion ineffective for the representation of the workers and should be replaced by an elected committee.