Royal Commission on Labour in India: Report(1929)||
The difficulties of the immigrant labourers are greatly increased by the scarcity of regular employment. To a considerable extent this is due to the seasonal character of much of the industrial work. Rice-milling is active from December to June and has very little work to offer after August. Only a small proportion of the labour is permanently retained. The demand for labour in the port is also substantially greater between December and June than in the other six months. During the monsoon, activity in a number of other branches of industry ceases or is diminished. Industrial labour can, to some extent, turn to agriculture in certain seasons, but the periods of keen demand in the two cases apparently overlap. There is, indeed, reason to believe that the industrial worker is suffering in the present depression from increased competition from workers who were formerly able to subsist throughout the year on agricultural earnings; but our evidence as to the interrelations of agricultural labour and industrial labour is scanty. Some relief is afforded by movement to and from India. The immigrant traffic is heaviest in November and December and the emigrant traffic in April, May and June, so that the supply is highest at the beginning of the year, when the demand is higher and least in the monsoon, when demand is lower. But the adjustment which these movements make is inadequate to counterbalance the effect of the seasonal demand, coupled with the movement into Rangoon of labour from other parts of Burma. Rangoon is a pool for the unemployed Indian labour of Burma. The Rangoon factory worker, who finds himself out of a job in the slack season, has thus to compete with Indians from elsewhere for such casual employment as is available. In Rangoon in 1928 there were said to be 7, 000 Telugu rickshaw pullers, and 8, 000 handcart pullers, who were mainly Telugus. A number of these appear to be persons who obtain employment in other lines when work is brisk and get what they can by pulling when no other work is available. Mr Bennison writes " In the majority of the occupations open to the immigrant a regular income is not assured and there is, therefore, very keen competition for jobs in establishments in which wages are paid regularly. Maistries in these establishments often have to pay heavy premiums for securing their positions, and they, in turn, extort premiums and monthly contributions from the coolies under them ". We believe that the maistry system tends to encourage more men to stay in Rangoon when work is not available than would otherwise remain there.