Royal Commission on Labour in India: Report(1929)||
The greater part of the output of coal is obtained by labour working under raising contractors. In the Jharia field these contractors are responsible for about 70 per cent and in the Raniganj field for about 40 per cent of the output. The raising contractor receives a fixed payment per ton, in return for which he recruits the workers, mines the coal and loads it into wagons. We have found it to be generally true that workmen employed by salaried managers, who are personally responsible for their workers, receive more consideration than those employed by .contractors, and we do not think that the coal-mining industry forms an exception to this rule. But there are reasons peculiar to the coalfields which, in our view, render a system of employment through contractors, involving divided responsibility for labour, open to special objection. Both in law and in fact the manager is responsible for the safety of the workmen; he determines where coal shall be worked and his decisions have the closest effect on the security of the miner. But even the safety men are not the manager's subordinates, being selected and paid by the contractor. The law also holds the manager responsible for compliance with its provisions in respect of hours of work, holidays, the employment of women, etc. As a rule he has also responsibility for housing and other matters (e.g., water supply) affecting the welfare of the worker outside the mine. Yet he has ordinarily no responsibility for the selection of the workers, the distribution of their work, the payment of their wages or even the numbers employed. We believe that, whatever the merits of the system in primitive times, it is now desirable, if the management is to discharge completely the complex responsibilities laid upon it by the law and by equity, that the manager should have full control over the selection, hours of work and payment of the worker. On all grounds, we recommend the gradual supersession of the raising contractor as such, and the substitution of what is known as sarkari working.