Labour Investigation Committee (1946)||
The Indian Railways Act .—-Until 1930, there was no statutory regulation of the conditions of work of railway servants except those employed in railway workshops which are' covered by the Indian Factories Act. By the Indian Railways (Amendment) Act, 1030, a new Chapter (Chapter VI-A) was added to the Indian Railways Act, 1890, dealing with the hours of work and periods of rest of railway; servants in conformity with the obligations which the Government of India undertook when they ratified the Hours of Work (Industry) Convention and the Weekly Rest (Industry) Convention in 1921 and 1923 respectively. Hours of Employment Regulations which regulate the hours of work of Railway servants and provide for the payment of overtime allowance and the grant of compulsory rest consist of Chapter VI-A of the Indian Railways Act, the Rules made by the Governor General in Council under Section. 71E of the Act and the subsidiary instructions issued by the Railway Board. The Rules made by1 the Governor-General in Council under Section 71 E are known as the Railway Servants' Hours of Employment Rules, 1931, and provide that the provisions of Chapter VI-A shall not apply to (a) running staff (b) watchmen, watermen, sweepers and gate-keepers, (c) persons in positions of supervision or management or in confidential employment, (d) persons employed in factories or mines coming within the scope of the Factories and Mines Acts, The exclusion of the staff in the first three categories does not, however, absolve the Supervisor of Railway Labour—Now the Chief Labour Commissioner (Central)—and his inspectors from watching their conditions of work. All Class I Federal Railways are covered by the Regulations now. They do not apply to Class II it and III Railways, or to Company-managed railways in which working conditions are still under no statutory control. The most vital
question for railway labour under the Regulations is the question of classification as 'continuous' and essentially intermittent'. 'Continuous' workers may be employed for 60 hours a week on an average in a month while 'essentially intermittent workers may be employed for 84 hours in a week. Again 'continuous' workers are alone entitled to a rest of not less than 24 hours each week commencing on Sunday. The power of declaring that the employment of railway servant is essentially intermittent is vested in the Head of a railway and in cases of dispute the decision of the Railway Board is final. The Supervisor of Railway Labour brings border-line cases and those which seem obviously to involve a breach of the law to the notice of the Railway Administration for reviewing or rectifying the classification, as the case may be. The Head of a railway is empowered to make exemptions from the provisions of law. which relate to hours of work and periods of rest and this power can be delegated to subordinate authorities. Delegations are generally to the senior subordinate official on the spot which in some cases means no more than a gangmate as pointed out by the Supervisor of Railway Labour in his Annual Report on the working of the Hours of Employment Regulations for the year 1939-40. Detailed records of all cases of exemption are not always kept by the subordinate officials with the result that little can be done in cases of alleged failure to pay overtime to the staff involved. Rule 9 of the Railway Servants' Hours of Employment Rules, 1931, requires railway administrations to make known either by duty lists, rosters, or other documents placed in conspicuous places, the duration of hours of employment and the incidence of periods of rest but quite a large number of employees were found working outside their rostered hours. Most of these cases relate to the Goods Staff whose complaint that it is not possible to complete the work allotted to them within the rostered hours has been found, in many cases, to be substantially correct. Though this evil is as old as the Regulations and though it has been often brought to the notice of the railway administrations by the Supervisor, little has been done to improve matters.
The Indian Dock Labourers Act, 1934.—This Act, passed in 1934 for the protection of port workers in pursuance of the Protection against Accidents (Dockers) Convention (Revised) 1932, has not yet been brought into force.