Royal Commission on Labour in India: Report(1929)||
It was also stated that industries such as ginning are handicapped by the restriction of the period during the 24 hours in which women may be employed to those between 5-30 A.M. and 7 P.M. Our proposals in Chapter IV, if adopted, will extend from 13 1/2 to 17 hours the period within which factories may employ women, although the period within which any individual woman may be employed is reduced from 13 1/2 to 13 hours. This recommendation should go far to meet the difficulty. We are aware that, in some of the cotton-ginning areas, notably the Punjab, employers have proved unwilling to conform to legal requirements in respect of working hours, the overworking of women being particularly prevalent. The number of prosecutions in a year for such offences in that province represents a high percentage of the whole. and we understand that the prohibited hours clause in respect of women is valued by an overworked inspectorate on the ground that without it such punitive action would not be possible. To combat the overworking of women in seasonal factories is a specially difficult task, since this class of rural worker generally knows nothing of the law, has no means of checking the time, and in the bulk of cases could easily be persuaded, were persuasion even necessary, to work any number of hours for the sake of the extra wages accruing. The women employed at a particular ginnery may be worked for more than 13 hours, even if no woman is found on the premises before or after the specified hours. This regulation, therefore, is in itself no certain remedy for this evil. The increased spreadover proposed in respect of women's hours makes it unnecessary for the seasonal factory owner to overwork any particular body of women. For this reason and in the absence of any shortage of labour, we feel that a policy of strict administration should henceforward be adopted wherever this evil is prevalent. At the same time, we recommend, as an additional precaution, that provincial Governments should have the power to prohibit in any particular group or class of seasonal factory the employment of women outside such hours, not being less than 11 in the aggregate, as they may specify. This power should be used only where a Government is satisfied that the Act is being consistently evaded and cannot be enforced by ordinary means. We hope that the necessity for using this drastic method will rarely arise, but the grant of these powers is advisable in view of the unwillingness of employers in cotton-ginning factories in some areas to abide by the law.