Royal Commission on Labour in India: Report(1929)||
Absenteeism is an important factor, in the Assam plantations. The Enquiry Committee of 1921-22 worked out the percentage of the average daily working strength to the total number of labourers on the garden books for a number of years and came to the conclusion that the efficient working force for each of these years was about 75 % of the total. The Indian Tea Association stated in their evidence that absenteeism had increased in recent years, but this is not corroborated by the published figures for 1927-28, 1928-29 and 1929-30 of the average daily working strength and the total number of workers on the garden books. The percentage of the efficient working force during these years has remained remarkably consistent with the earlier figures in the report of the Enquiry Committee of 1921-22. The actual figures for 1929-30 were as follows:—
(i) Adult labourers (working and non-working)
living in garden lines and on garden land
(ii) Number of labourers on garden books in Sept ember and March
(iii) Average daily working strength in these
(iv) Percentage of (iii) to (ii)
The Assam Branch of the Association has pointed out that the months of September and March, on which both the figures given by the Enquiry Committee and the figures for later years are based, do not give a true percentage of absenteeism, and they have supplied us with figures for a number of gardens throughout the year. These show for the selected gardens in 1929 an average attendance of about 69 % in the Assam Valley and about 74% in the Surma Valley. Similar figures for previous years are not available, and the constancy of the published figures for September and March makes it unlikely that there have been substantial changes in the percentages attending at other seasons. In considering the extent of absenteeism in the Assam tea gardens, it is important to bear in mind the subsidiary occupations of the garden worker. The most important is private cultivation, but household duties in agricultural surroundings, such as the purchases of weekly supplies from the market, the collection of firewood, the grazing of cattle, the threshing of corn, etc., make a considerable demand on the workers' time and particularly on that of the women. Absenteeism is, therefore, to some extent inevitable.