Royal Commission on Labour in India: Report(1929)||
Collective bargaining in India is a development of recent years. Associations of merchants in the form of Chambers of Commerce had long been in existence to deal with matters of common interest in the field of trade and commerce. During the second half of the last century the introduction of organised industry led to the formation of associations to secure united action for the encouragement of different industries. With a view to the promotion and protection of the interests of members, these associations took an active part in the discussion of legislative proposals and other matters of common policy affecting industry. They were thus able to make representations and to take common action concerning the interests of members as a whole, including social and labour legislation, but they had no power to interfere in matters pertaining to the internal working of individual concerns. In this period the only important exception to this general rule was in the jute industry where for nearly 50 years, it has been the practice for the association to regulate working hours in the factories of its members with a view to meeting variations in the supply and demand of the product. With the introduction of new and the expansion of existing industries, competition for trained labour increased. The efforts of individual employers to attract new workers took different forms, for example, higher wages, improved housing accommodation, provision of water supplies and similar amenities. These improvements, however, were almost wholly due to the initiative of individual employers, and it was not until the period of unrest created by war conditions that employers found it advisable to act together in labour matters. In 1918 the Committee of the Indian Jute Mills Association, on the curtailment of working time owing to war conditions, made a recommendation which was adopted by its members for the payment of khoraki (i.e., an allowance) to their employees in respect of the enforced short-time working. In 1920 the Committee of the Bombay Millowners' Association made a recommendation, which also was adopted by its members, for the introduction of a 10 hour working day before it was enacted by legislation. Since then associations of employers have been compelled to devote considerable attention to the demands of employees for improved working conditions. This period coincides with the beginnings of trade unions in India, and the growth of trade unionism may be said to have been one of the factors in bringing home to associations of employers the need for common action, not only as regards working time and output, hut also in respect of wages and other matters affecting the lives of their workers. Meanwhile the influence of employers' associations on the Legislatures grew, as in course of time representatives were first nominated and then mainly elected to them. There are now 8 representatives of commercial and industrial Chambers or Associations in the Central Legislature and over 50 in the provincial Councils. The evidence we received from employers' associations satisfied us that they contain many who are capable of doing much to solve the labour problems with which industries are confronted.
In our opinion it would be well if every organisation set up a special committee for the purpose of giving continuous consideration to the improvement of the well-being and the efficiency of the workers in the establishments controlled by its members.