Royal Commission on Labour in India: Report(1929)||
In the case of jute pressing, which is virtually confined to Bengal, a distinction must be drawn between the Calcutta presses and the others. The latter are entirely seasonal and for the most part pack bales of 3 to 4 maunds for home consumption, although some in Narain-ganj and Chandpur pack 5 maund bales for export. Anything from 50 to 75 per cent of the workers are employed from surrounding villages, the remainder coming mainly from Bihar and Orissa, the United Pro-vinces and even the Punjab. Those employed locally return nightly to their homes, the others being housed mainly in rent-free coolie lines built by the firms. The season extends from July to December or per-haps later, after which the workers disperse to follow their normal agricultural pursuits. All labour is employed and paid through contractors, who undertake the work at a fixed rate per bale. Those employed from the locality are obtained through the offer by the contractor of small advances; those obtained from distant provinces are recruited through contractors' sardars, who give more substantial advances. The Calcutta presses, although they have a busy and a slack period, and to that extent are seasonal, are mostly open intermittently throughout the year. The buildings as a general rule are rented by the owners to jute balers who, in return, pay an agreed rate per bale. This rate is fixed to cover the rent of the godowns in which the jute is stored and assorted and all charges for baling and exporting. The bulk of the labour employed, which comes mainly from outside Bengal, is engaged in carrying the heavy jute bales. Skilled labour is employed in the assorting and pressing operations.†
The workers fall into three categoriesócarriers in the employ of the labour contractor, assorters in the employ of balers and press hands in the employ of the press house owner. All three classes, therefore, may claim a different employer and, moreover, are paid on a different system. The carriers are paid fortnightly by the contractor on a time-rate basis, obtaining advances against wages when necessary from their sardars. The labour in the employ of balers is paid on piece rates, vouchers for work done being cashed as and when the worker pleases. The press house staff, the only labour which can be characterised as permanent, is paid by the month.