Royal Commission on Labour in India: Report(1929)||
With the exception of Sir Victor Sassoon, we are agreed that a reduction in the statutory week is practicable and desirable. On the question of the extent of the reduction, namely, whether it should be to 54 or to 48 hours, we have to submit diverging views.The majority of us recommend a reduction to 54 hours a week for the following reasons. We are satisfied that in large sections of industry this limit will cause no appreciable inconvenience, and in the others the workers have a reasonable claim that the necessary adjustments shall be made. On the other hand, the introduction of the lower limit would involve a change of hours in the great majority of the perennial factories, and it would mean a very heavy reduction in the factories now working 60 hours. Many operatives would have to face large reductions in their earnings and, while we do not doubt that part of this loss would be made good before long, we are not convinced that the operatives as a whole are in a position to regain their old standard in any reasonably short period. From the point of view of industry, the employer is entitled to claim that, until the worker is ready to approximate more nearly to Western standards of discipline, it is unreasonable to attempt an 8 hour day, and even an 8 1/2 hour day would involve an amount of dislocation that would be serious. It may be possible in the future, when efficiency has risen further, to go lower than 54 hours. But efficiency is not likely to be raised so surely by a sweeping reduction as by a smaller one, and there will be nothing to prevent a further reduction, if the results of the smaller change which we advocate indicate that this is desirable. Finally, we believe that the 48 hour limit which some of our colleagues advocate could only be operative at present if great latitude was given in the matter of exemptions. In our view, the worker will be better protected by a limit which can only be relaxed in exceptional circumstances than by one to which many exceptions have to be attached. So far as the daily limit is concerned, we would fix this by statute at 10 hours. This will permit of working either six days of 9 hours each or five days of 10 hours with a half holiday on the sixth, and will give some elasticity. We would allow factories working on continuous processes or supplying articles of necessity .which have to be supplied every day a 56 hour week, subject to their giving the operative an average week of not more than 54 hours and conforming, in respect of holidays, to the provisions we recommend later.