Royal Commission on Labour in India: Report(1929)||
Reference has been made to the fact that recruiting for rice mills is conducted in India. There is also said to be some recruitment in India for earthwork, but it is clear that the bulk of the assisted immigrants represents contract labour for the rice milling industry. We received from a witness with experience of Indian labour in Rangoon a proposal for a new system of recruitment for this labour. This started with the observation that all the requirements of rice mills could be met by local recruitment.
It involved the institution of a recruiting bureau to be managed by the three large firms which control the bulk of the rice mill labour in Rangoon. The basis of the proposal was that the miller should deal directly with the gang maistry and should engage him through the bureau. It was suggested that the payment of advances was unnecessary. In response to our invitation, the three firms in question furnished us with their views on this scheme. Briefly, they contest the view that the labour required by the rice mills could be met by local recruitment and stated that it did not appear possible to obtain sufficient labour without giving advances. Their general conclusion may be summed up in the words " On the whole, the system works well and it is difficult to see how it can be improved ". They regard the idea of a labour bureau started by the firms as quite impracticable. Such evidence as we were able to secure does not warrant any definite conclusions regarding the most suitable method of recruitment, but we are quite clear that, however well the present system may appear to work from the point of view of the employer, it is unsatisfactory from the point of view of labour. If the proposals made elsewhere become operative and advances for recruiting purposes are made irrecoverable, one objection to the system will be substantially minimised, but others will remain. The labour is specially brought over for a season, which may be less than six months and is seldom more than eight. Even during this season, employment may not be continuous. But there is no assurance that other work will be available, nor is any allowance regularly paid when work cannot be provided, nor is repatriation guaranteed. The result is that, after the season is over, labour may be sent to swell the numbers competing for other employment. We consider it unreasonable that labour should be assisted to emigrate by any industry in such circumstances. If, therefore, this or any other industry finds it necessary to recruit in India, it must be prepared to repatriate the recruited worker as soon as it ceases to pay him his normal wages and so to secure that the workers it brings are not left in a foreign country without the means of subsistence after a short period. We, return later to the question of the control over emigration, with which this is bound up.