Royal Commission on Labour in India: Report(1929)||
The maintenance of the existing economic position of the industry and its workers, in spite of a statutory reduction of hours, depends mainly on the extent to which the hours of actual work can be compressed into a smaller compass and the unauthorised intervals cut down. If this can be achieved to any large extent, the problem reduces itself to one of adjusting the total hours for the machinery. Here some evidence is afforded by past history. When the Factory Labour Commission of 1908 made its investigations, many textile mills were working from 13 to 15 hours a day with a single set of workers, and shortly before that this practice had been fairly general. There was ample evidence that loitering was associated with long hours, and the Commission considered that the operatives, by their leisurely mode of work, counteracted to a considerable extent the evil results which would naturally follow from excessive hours. In 1911 a statutory limit of 12 hours per day was introduced in textile mills. There is no doubt that the general reduction of hours to this limit was profitable, and no one would now expect to gain by working operatives for 14 hours a day; even at that time it was recognised by many as unprofitable. As we have already stated, the statutory 60 hour week dates from 1922, but a 10 hour day in cotton mills had been secured shortly before that date. Opinions differ regarding the effect of the second reduction and these opinions reflect differing experience. We do not doubt that a number of mills were able to secure increased efficiency from the operative to an extent which more than compensated them for the loss of working time, and that in others there was in certain processes a distinct fall in production. Indeed, it is not difficult to show that the production of the average cotton mill operative in British India fell immediately after the introduction of the 10 hour day (though not in proportion to the reduction of hours) and that in a few years it had risen to a higher figure then that prevailing before the change. This, however, is not the same thing as proving that the operatives' efficiency, by itself, increased to such an extent that they gave more to the industry in ID hours than they had previously done in 12. There have been many factors at work, from unimportant ones like the substitution of adults for children to more important ones such as expenditure on improved plant, machinery, cooling-systems, etc., and changes in types of cotton used and counts spun. We are not prepared, therefore, to give any quantitative estimate of the results of the change, particularly as these results varied widely from centre to centre. But there can be little doubt that, following the change, on the average the efficiency of the operatives has risen substantially. The change also had some effect in stimulating employers to secure increased efficiency in other directions.