Royal Commission on Labour in India: Report(1929)||
We have dealt with the possibility of securing more regular work; but there are two aspects to the case and it should be recognised that the miner on his part has cause for complaint. Practically all work at the mines is paid by the piece, the unit for coal cutters and loaders being the tub. The remuneration of both depends, therefore, on the number of tubs that can be filled; but there are many causes lying outside the worker's control, which may prevent him from securing an adequate day's wage. Examples of such causes are deficiency of tubs, difficult working places, long leads, stone and shale and mechanical breakdowns. An allowance on these grounds is sometimes paid, but this is by no means universal. For example, we found in the Giridih field instances where a miner in a day of 12 hours could produce no more than one small tub of coal. Statutory provision is necessary to ensure that the worker, whose wages fall short from causes outside his control. shall not be penalised. We recognise the difficulty of making provisions of this kind without offering encouragement to the slack or incompetent worker, but our conclusion is that statutory distinction between the causes of short output is impracticable and that the management is in a position to protect itself against deliberate idling. Our recommendation is that every worker on piece-work who goes underground shall automatically be credited, for purposes of payment, with a certain minimum output for every shift of eight hours or more worked. Under the present system this minimum output would be expressed in tubs. We should leave to an authority well acquainted with local conditions, the amount of this guaranteed minimum output and also the determination of the area over which the same rate should apply The standard fixed should in no case exceed the normal daily output of a man of average skill and industry. Being anxious to avoid setting up new authorities where existing bodies will serve the purpose, we consider that the Mining Boards might be utilised for this purpose over the areas which they cover, provided that, whatever the constitution of the Boards for other purposes, they contain an equal number of representatives of employers and workers when sitting to determine standards. I will be necessary for these Boards to frame rules to prevent abuse of the provision recommended in this paragraph.
Sir Alexander Murray is unable to accept the recommendation contained in this paragraph. He draws a distinction between difficulties which are due to hard working places and other causes incidental to mining operations in all collieries, and those which are due to temporary shortages of tubs. The former difficulties can be provided for, and, so far as he is aware, are generally met, by special rates or allowances. A regards the deficiency of tubs, he believes the cases where piece-workers in mines are prevented from earning normal daily wages on this account are comparatively few. They are confined to a short period about the month of February when, in the absence of other employment in agriculture, surplus workers flock into the coalfields. In his opinion the solution of this problem is for managers to refuse to permit workers to enter the mines in larger numbers than are required for efficient working. He does not consider that the difficulties referred to or the conditions generally obtaining in the coalfields justify the provisions which we recommend for the introduction of a system of guaranteed minimum output for every piece-worker who goes underground.