Royal Commission on Labour in India: Report(1929)||
The case of persona employed on ships requires fuller consideration. The Act at present applies only to those engaged on sea-going ships registered under Indian Acts, on the larger coasting ships registered under those Acts and on the larger inland steam vessels. The great majority of Indian seamen, however, arc engaged on ships registered outside India, and mainly on British ships. Those have no statutory claim to compensation under the Indian Act: but they have the protection of the British and other Workmen's Compensation Acts. It is, however, in most cases a difficult matter for them to avail themselves of this protection, and their dependants find it even more difficult. For example, if a seaman is killed while engaged on a British ship plying between Calcutta and the Far East, and compensation is refused, his dependants must prosecute the claim in Great Britain. This difficulty has been to some extent overcome by an arrangement in which practically all the shipping companies employing Indian lascars have co-operated. Under this arrangement, the shipowner and the seaman, at the time of signing the articles, enter into an additional article of agreement by which, in the event of accidents, compensation in accordance with the Indian Act can be claimed by seamen who do not prosecute claims elsewhere, and the Commissioners under the Indian Act are accepted as arbitrators in the event of disputes. On the whole, this arrangement appears to have worked smoothly but it cannot be regarded as entirely satisfactory. In the first place, it is apparently within the option of the shipowner to refuse to enter into the agreement. In the second place, according to our information the agreement does not give the dependants a legal claim, although employers have not taken advantage of this loophole. Finally, the proceedings of Commissioners are not proceedings under the Indian Act, and various safeguards in the Act and Rules, such as the provisions relating to appeals, agreements, etc., are inapplicable.