Royal Commission on Labour in India: Report(1929)||
In addition to the difficulties arising from indirect employment and fluctuations in demand, a third factor is assuming increasing significance. This is the tendency for the Burmans to claim work which has hitherto been carried on by Indians. The Burman has little liking for monotonous unskilled work, and, until recently, he has had more attractive alternatives. For many years after the annexation of Upper Burma, there was little difficulty in securing fresh land for cultivation at a low cost, and the land offered a more pleasant and prosperous life than employment in the towns. The large expansion of agriculture led to an * expansion of industry, and both were made possible by an increasing supply of Indian labour. The Burman was able to maintain a much higher standard of living than is general in any Indian province, while the harder and more monotonous work was left to Indians, who, if they did not attain the same standard, got much better pay than they could find in India. Increasing economic pressure, which, at the present time, is accentuated in Burma as elsewhere, is making itself felt, and the Burman is anxious to compete in fields hitherto left to the Indian. This is, in part, the explanation of the tragic events in Rangoon in May 1930. On 6th May the Telugu dock labourers struck for an increased wage. Six years previously on the occurrence of a strike, the employers had resorted to Burmese labour, which made no effort to retain the employment when the strike came to an end. This time after the strike had been in progress for some days, the employers offered an increase of the daily rate, which was accepted by the men on strike. When the Indian dock labourers returned to work, a collision occurred between them and the Burmans brought in to fill their places. For some days there was grave rioting, in which according to the estimate of the committee subsequently appointed by Government, about 120 persons were killed. The great majority of these were Indians, and the Indian labourers were in a state of panic, numbers returning to India at the first opportunity. It soon became apparent that there was a demand, strongly supported by public opinion, for the employment of Burmans on the docks.