Royal Commission on Labour in India: Report(1929)||
We have now to consider the suitability of the legal limits on the working day and the working week. The provisions of the Bill which was passed as the Act of 1928 met with criticism because with an existing weekly limit of hours of 60 above ground and 54 below-ground, the introduction of a 12 hour day meant no advance. On the other hand, it was urged that the object of the Act was not the reduction of working hours, but the enforcement of some regularity in their arrangement. The whole case for and against a shorter daily limit was examined with care by the Select Committee of the Legislative Assembly, which considered the Bill in 1928. The members of that Committee were agreed that the 8 hour shift is the system towards which advance should be directed. But, for reasons given in their report, the Committee decided to adhere to the 12 hour shift, recommending to Government that, after the Act had been in force for three years, the situation should again be examined to see whether an 8 hour shift could then be introduced. As the three years did not commence to run till April 1930, we have had no opportunity of seeing the Act in operation and it is not possible, therefore, to say that the considerations which led the Committee to suggest an experimental period have lost their force. We do not suggest that twelve hours is. a suitable working day for a miner working regularly, but under the present law the miner working regularly cannot work more than nine hours. The smooth working of the statutory system of shifts, combined with other changes recently introduced, will not be an easy task either for the industry or for the administration. There is the further consideration that. during the next few years, many miners will have difficulty in adjusting their work to meet the position caused by the exclusion of their women; and a fresh and drastic limitation of the kind involved in an 8 hour day might make adequate adjustment impossible. Finally, the industry still depends to a considerable extent on the miner who comes in for a few days from a village some distance away and desires to put in the maximum of work during that time in order to secure as long a period as possible at his home. The introduction of 8 hour shifts will tend to eliminate work of this kind. While we are not prepared to say that compelling the industry to depend on those classes of miners who will live near their collieries and work regularly would ultimately prove a disadvantage, we do not think that the present is the best time for a definite step in this direction. On all grounds, therefore, we endorse the recommendation of the Select Committee.