Royal Commission on Labour in India: Report(1929)||
Statistics of average earnings of workers in mines are obtained in a form prescribed by the regulations framed under the Indian Mines Act. The mineowners are required to give for the month of December the average daily earnings of their employees, separately for underground workers, those employed on open workings and on the surface. The average daily earnings are obtained by dividing the total amount paid in wages for work done in December by the aggregate daily attendance in that month. From the returns thus submitted, the Chief Inspector of Mines prepares a statement showing average earnings in the different fields which is incorporated in his annual report. We reproduce on the following page the average daily earnings for December 1929 for the more important mining areas shown in this statement.
Average daily earnings in rupees, annas and pies during the month of December 1929 in each important mineral field in British India.
The figures must be accepted with some reserve as the returns submitted by the mineowners are not subjected to an official check at the source, and their accuracy depends entirely on the proper determination of the aggregate daily attendance during the month for which they are prepared. This is not always an easy matter, as payment is made by the tub and in some cases the worker receives assistance from members of his family and also from others who share in the joint earnings. Payment in all coal mines for coal cutters and other underground' workers is by the tub. The average rate per tub of coal raised in the leading coalfields is about seven annas, but in most cases this includes the payment for the loader who fills the coal into tubs. The average number of tubs raised by a worker in a day is between two and three. The average monthly earnings of the worker cannot, however, be calculated from the average daily earnings as shown in the statement given, for attendance is extremely irregular. At our request the Government of Bihar and Orissa have prepared a series of family budgets from the Jharia field. These and the evidence that we collected suggest that the average monthly earnings of a coal cutter are in the neighbourhood of Rs. 10 to Rs. 15. This has some support in the evidence given regarding the average attendance of the miner. The other mines of importance are the lead and tin. mines in Burma, the salt mines in the Punjab, the manganese mines in the Central Provinces and the mica and iron mines in Bihar and Orissa. As will appear from the statement which we have reproduced, the average daily earnings are appreciably higher in Burma, than in any other part of India. The original statement contains a foot-note to the effect that in the Punjab salt mines the earnings recorded are below the average level, as the output of salt is severely restricted in the month of December without reducing the labour force. The fact that a system of gang payment is in force makes it difficult to give reliable figures of individual earnings. Further information furnished to us by the Chief Inspector of Mines indicates that, in the numerous stone quarries, the daily wage varies from 5 annas to 8 annas for men and 4 annas to 5 annas for women.