Royal Commission on Labour in India: Report(1929)||
The representatives of a seamen's union submitted in evidence a number of points in connection with the articles of agreement and the procedure for signing on and discharge. The union urged that the provision of a column in the articles for a report on the quality of the seaman's work was prejudicial to him and that the agreement should provide for unemployment indemnity in case of loss or foundering of the ship. These matters have now been dealt with in a Bill to amend the Indian Merchant Shipping Act, which was recently passed by the Indian Legislature. A further demand was that a seaman should receive wages from the date of signing on until the date of final payment of all his dues on discharge. The object is to secure that the seaman is not required to remain in port unnecessarily when not in employment. Having regard to the prevailing indebtedness among seamen and the high cost of living in ports, we have every sympathy with this object. We received little evidence in regard to the delays which occurred between the signing on and actual engagement or between discharge and final payment of wages, and recommend that the Government should make further enquiries into the matter and take such action as may be found necessary. With regard to the payment of wages on discharge, the Indian Merchant Shipping Act provides a maximum period of five days after discharge or three days after the cargo has been delivered, whichever first happens. We have been informed that seamen sometimes leave for their villages before the expiry of this period and, in consequence, the final payment is much delayed. The possibility of reducing this period should be considered by Government. Stress was laid by the union on the importance of signing on taking place in the Shipping Office. We recommend that this matter also should be examined.