Royal Commission on Labour in India: Report(1929)||
It has been pointed out that the popularity of a tea garden in Assam does not always depend on high earnings, and that several factors, e.g., the system of wage payment, the employment of women and children almost to the same extent as men, the amount of rice land available for private cultivation by the workers and other concessions, have to be taken into account in considering the actual level of cash wages. It would not, therefore, be correct to assume that a garden worker in Assam is financially in a worse position than a worker in other industries, merely because his earnings are lower. We must not, however, be understood to be minimising the importance of the cash wage. Labour has to be imported from distant areas, and wages are the main factor influencing migration. It is not enough for an intending recruit to be told that he will be better off in Assam. He naturally desires to have some indication of the monetary return he may expect for his labour. With the increasing competition from other industries, the tea industry has experienced difficulties in securing an adequate supply of labour. The importance of an attractive wage has, indeed, been realised by the industry, whose consistent policy, at any rate since the troubles of 1921-22, has been to assist the garden worker as far as possible to increase his earnings. The elasticity of the system of wage payment enables the worker who has not yet been able to obtain rice land to secure increased earnings by longer hours of work, and we were shown instances of workers whose monthly earnings were considerably higher than the average. We were informed that normally there is no limit to ticca earnings. Further, new recruits not yet acclimatized or in a poor state of health are generally allowed a full hazira for the first month or two irrespective of output and, as we show in a later chapter, in some gardens monetary concessions are also given to children and to workers unable to work through sickness.