Royal Commission on Labour in India: Report(1929)||
We now come to the question of the desirability of extending the existing Factories Act to classes of workers hitherto uncovered by an] of its regulations. The history of factory law in India has throughout been one of steady advance, each successive Act covering a wider field than the last and bringing within its orbit classes of workers or establishments which the increasing spread of industrialism has shown to be in need of protection or regulation. As in England, it was the case of the children which first attracted attention, with the result that the initial Act sought to regulate the conditions of work of children in the bulk of factories employing 100 or more workers. This 1881 Act exclude children under 7 years, while the child of from 7 to 12 years became a " half-timer ", who could be worked for a maximum of 9 hours. The second Act of 1891 raised the minimum working age of the half-time from 7 to 9 years, and the age at which he became an adult from 12 to 14 years, reduced his working hours from 9 to 7 and prohibited hi employment on dangerous work. The importance of this Act, however lay not so much in the granting of increased protection to the child worker as in its extension also to women workers, who were given a maximum day of 11 hours. In addition the Act brought under contract all places employing 50, instead of the previous 100, employees provide they used power machinery. Moreover for the first time local Governments were given power to include all factories using power and employing 20 persons or more within the scope of the new Act. The Act of 1911, which repealed both the earlier Acts, took the extremely important third step of regulating the hours of men in textile factories as well as those of women and children. The hours of children employed in such factories were reduced from 7 to 6. At the same time new provisions in respect of health and safety were introduced, but on this occasion the definition of a factory remained unchanged. The year 1922 saw the passage of an amending Act fixing an 11 hour day an 60 hour week for adults. The importance of this Act in showing the gradual extension of the principle of control lay in the reduction of the number of workers necessary to constitute a factory from 50 to 20 an in extending to local Governments power to include places employing as few as ten persons in the case of those without any installation of power machinery as well as those using such machinery. It also too another step in protecting the child worker by excluding altogether those under 12 years, raising the age at which the industrial child became an adult to 15 years, and restricting the hours of the half-time in all factories to 6 daily. The subsequent amending Acts of 1923 and 1926 did not make any change of importance in the scope of the Act either as regards establishments or classes of workers.