Royal Commission on Labour in India: Report(1929)||
The present conditions are in large measure the result of the war which, by increasing the demand for seamen's labour, led to a large increase in the supply. After the termination of the war, the demand fell rapidly, with the result that the number of seamen was far in excess of the openings available. The Committee of 1922 drew attention to the serious unemployment then prevailing, and, as we have stated, its recommendations were so framed as to encourage practically continuous employment to a limited number of men.
We do not think that these recommendations took sufficient account of the desire of many seamen to spend between voyages comparatively long periods in their villages and their value as a check to unemployment was further weakened by the encouragement which the roster system would have given to the old and the inefficient seamen to remain on the waiting list. But when the Committee's recommendations were rejected as impracticable, the importance of ensuring that the system adopted should operate to reduce unemployment seems to have been overlooked. With one exception, the steps taken in the last few years have not been calculated to have this effect, and the problem to-day is as serious as it was in 1922. In Bombay, according to the estimate of the Indian Seamen's Union, which appears to be approximately correct, there is employment at any one time for only one-third of the number available for employment. In the Shipping Office we found a number of serangs and butlers who, in spite of their previous satisfactory service, had been out of employment for periods varying from one to four years. The Shipping Master informed us that he had no control over new recruits whose names were being entered in the register, even though it was certain that no employment would be available for the majority of them for a considerable time.