Royal Commission on Labour in India: Report(1929)||
We turn now to a brief review of the various methods adopted both to prevent the occurrence of disputes and to resolve them when they arose. The industrial unrest which followed the close of the war led to an examination of methods adopted in other countries, and especially in Great Britain. Among these, the institution of works committees received attention at an early stage. In 1920 the Government of India, while starting joint committees in their presses, directed public attention to the possibilities of the idea and about the same time committees were formed by Messrs. Tata at Jamshedpur and in at least one of the larger railways. A committee appointed in Bengal in 1921, at the instance of the Legislative Council, to consider the causes of and remedies for industrial unrest, gave warm support to the idea. At the Buckingham and Carnatic Mills in Madras, where 9, 000 workers are employed and where the proportion of permanent labour is large, a works committee was formed in 1922 under the name of the Workpeople's Welfare Committee. It was started by the management with the object of securing closer contact with the workers by the discussion and settlement of matters affecting their interests. The constitution of the committee is kept as elastic as possible and is subject to enlargement as circumstances demand. In addition to the President and Vice-President, it is now composed of 26 representatives of the workers and ten of the management. The former are elected annually by a secret ballot of workers with more than one year's service in the different departments. The welfare superintendent is ex-officio secretary and two labour representatives are elected to serve as assistant secretaries. The proceedings of the meetings, which are held fortnightly, are printed in Tamil and circulated among the workpeople.
In addition to assuming large responsibilities in respect of the numerous welfare activities associated with the mills, the committee is said to have proved useful in maintaining good relations between the staff and the workers. Any worker who considers that he has been unjustly treated can report the matter to the welfare committee member of his department, who then makes representations to the management on the worker's behalf. Individual cases of a serious nature, such as dismissals, can also be brought before the welfare committee, if the worker is dissatisfied and further enquiry or consideration seems to be required. The firm have no doubt that the Committee is now genuinely appreciated by the workers: it has enabled the management and the workers to get into closer touch, resulting in a better understanding of each other's point of view so that misrepresentation leading to strained relationship is, they think, less likely to occur. A considerable number of committees have been formed in State and private establishments in recent years; and in several of the leading railway systems the idea has been elaborated in a series of committees or councils, both local and general. Some committees have been successful and there are probably few that have been without use; but generally speaking the results achieved have been disappointing. We discuss the reasons later.