Royal Commission on Labour in India: Report(1929)||
We do not seek to minimise the difficulties inherent in the regulation of places of this kind. But we do not feel that they should deter Government from taking the first steps in prohibiting the overworking of young children and in ensuring for the thousands of men, women and children employed in them the protection of reasonably sanitary working conditions. We are conscious of the fact that we are here dealing with a large variety of industries in varying degrees of prosperity, which hitherto have never been subject to any regulation, except in respect of municipal sanitary enactments, which for the most part have been laxly enforced. No regulation, even of the Simplest kind, touching the workers themselves has ever been operative. This makes it not only advisable but necessary to apply that principle of gradualness which we have already shown to have characterised previous measures for ameliorating industrial standards. It may be taken for granted that, in the first instance, regulation will give rise to a variety of methods of evasion on the part of some employers and parents but this will be no more than a repetition of the past history of such regulation in countries with an older industrial background. For example, in industries already carried on to a large extent as homework trades, an increase in the number of home workers must at first be anticipated. This will be effected primarily in order that any regulation in respect of the hours of work and the starting age of child workers may be evaded, but also in order to reduce the number of workers actually employed on the premises and so escape the obligation to conform to a certain minimum standard of ventilation and sanitation. Similarly, even where homework is not possible, some employers may seek to evade legal requirements by taking two neighbouring workshops instead of one, so that no one place may employ sufficient workers to come within the scope of the law, a course of action which cannot be overcome by declaring that all places under one ownership shall be regarded as one unit, since it is always open to an employer to register one or more in the name of near relatives. While we recognise the inevitability of tendencies of this kind, we believe that, in due course, when legislation has been enforced for some time, such activities will largely cease. By then not only will regulation have lost much of its terror for this type of employer, but many of the steps taken to evade it will be found in India, as elsewhere, to be uneconomic.