Labour Investigation Committee (1946)||
Recruitment is the first step in the employment of labour, and naturally the methods and organisation by means of which labour is brought into industry has a lot to do with the ultimate success or failure of such employment. The system of recruitment in India has grown up in a haphazard manner and consequently there has been no application of any scientific principles of labour administration and labour management. Unfortunately, In India there is a large and perennial supply of unskilled labour flowing from the villages to the towns and back again to the villages, according to seasonal and other requirements. No doubt, in some industrial centres in recent years a class of industrial workers is steadily arising, which is prepared to depend solely on industry and to settle in the town, but broadly the village still remains the main source of labour supply. As the supply of labour is not localised in urban areas, the system of recruitment has had to be adapted to this situation and sometimes in doing this questionable methods of recruitment have been followed for obtaining the required labour. Both organised and unorganised industries have largely depended upon a number of intermediaries such as, jobbers, sardars, and contractors, in order to establish contacts with labour in the villages and to bring it to the cities. Labour has been very often attracted to the cities with promises of better wages, more comfortable employment better amenities, etc. The intermediaries themselves have been offered, attractive commission. After coming to the industrial centres, the workers would naturally have settled down and made their homes therein, but the attractions promised and the hopes built upon them by workers have not always materialised. More often than not, they have been housed in dirty, congested, barrack-like rooms, without proper sanitation; they have been made to work long hours under irksome conditions in factories, mines and other establishments; they have been denied the privileges of holidays with pay, leave etc., and they have been subjected to a fairly hard discipline, to which they were not accustomed. Under such conditions, workers have generally shown a tendency to refuse to settle down in the cities and to go back to their villages as frequently as possible.
The recruitment of labour through intermediaries has been always fraught with serious evils. The Royal Commission neatly summaries the abuses of this system:
"The temptations of the jobbers' position are manifold, and it would be surprising if these men failed to take advantage of their opportunities. There are few factories where a worker's
F.N. Report p. 24. ,
security is not, to some extent in the hands of a jobber; in a number of factories the latter has in practice the power to engage and to dismiss a worker. We are satisfied that it is a fairly general practice for the jobber to profit financially by the exercise of this power. The evil varies in intensity from industry to industry and from centre to centre. It is usual for a fee to be exacted as the price of engagement, or of re-employment after a period of absence. In many cases a smaller regular payment has also to be made out of each month's wages. In other cases workers have to supply the jobber with drink or other periodical offerings in kind. The jobber himself has at times to subsidise the head jobber; and it is said that even members of the supervising staff sometimes receive a share of the bribe.
The jobber, known in different parts of India and in different industries by different names such as sardar, mistry, mukadam, tindal, chowdhry, kangany, etc., is almost a uliquitions feature of recruitment and labour administration in India, and usually combines in himself a formidable array of functions. Thus he is not only a recruiting agent, but very often a supervisor or foreman, or even a sub-employer, or a gangman who is both a sub-employer and a worker sharing the income with other workers.
Although the Royal Commission condemned the system of recruitment of labour through intermediaries and some little improvement has resulted especially in cities like Bombay, Cawnpore, Jamshedpur, etc., the position has not materially changed. The Bombay Textile Labour Enquiry Committee1 have stated that even in centres like Bombay and Sholapur, where some sort of control of recruitment especially in the case of badli labour has been introduced, the jobber has not been eliminated, in practice, for purposes of recruitment; not has he even lost his influence over recruitment. In spite of the undoubted abuses of the system; however, it is not certain that Indian labour has yet reached that stage of development and mobility where the intermediary for recruitment can be easily dispensed with; and under existing circumstances, in the absence of alternative agencies, the jobber or his various namesakes have to be accepted as an inevitable factor. The jobber's close touch with the recruiting districts and villages and his understanding and appreciation of the habits, hopes and fears of the workers, render his position more advantageous as compared to direct agencies of recruitment, in view of the later's comparative aloofness. It must be remembered that even Government had to seek the help of such intermediaries and pay them a commission in order to obtain recruits for military service or other employment projects. To admit the inevitability of the jobber does not mean, however, that steps should not be taken on an increasing scale to regularise the system of recruitment for industries or put some method into it.
Generally speaking, a part of the labour in most factories and the bulk in some are recruited direct. Direct recruitment is most in evidence in the Provinces of Bombay, Madras and the Punjab. The general procedure for direct recruitment is exhibition of a notice at the factory gate that so much complement is required and selection by the factory manager or labour superintendent or some other official from amongst
those who present themselves at the factory gate. Sometimes the requirement for fresh recruits is brought to the notice of those already working in the factory who advertise it among their friends and relations. A large number of applicants thus flock to the factory gate on the following day, and in some places, one can see large queues of work-beggars gathering in the morning, hours. These methods are generally effective only for securing fresh labour under the unskilled categories to substitute workers. Recruitment of skilled to semi-skilled labour is, however, more difficult. A position of the requirements are met by promoting improvers. Skilled workers are generally recruited by inviting applications and making a direct selection after trade tests, if necessary. Recruitment is also direct in some of the unregulated industries like bidi-making, shellac; coir matting etc.
The method of recruiting on the railways differs in different circumstances and in different departments. On all State-owned and State-managed railways, the authority for recruiting non-gazetted staff against sanctioned posts vests in the General Manager or any other officer to whom he may delegate his powers. The General Manager is also responsible for laying down the procedure for such appointments. Usually, there are Selection Boards for the recruitment of subordinate staff, the Heads of Departments or Sections filling up the inferior posts. The Heads of other Railways are entrusted with the responsibility of recruiting the required staff.
Station masters are recruited after an initial period of training in telegraphy, transportation and commercial subjects; Commercial Departments require ticket collectors, booking clerks, and other staff to undergo similar training; Engineering Departments recruit permanent way and signal interlocking staff as apprentices for a specific period before employment; inferior staff, including peons, watchmen, gangmen, porters, pointsmen, etc., are recruited direct by the department concerned from amongst the local labour as and when required. In the machine shops, unskilled workers are engaged locally, semi-skilled through promotion and skilled workers from amongst outside applicants trained in particular trades or apprentices drawn from the workshops. In some workshops, artisans are engaged by Labour Bureaux which make selection and rating of employees with the help of works, managers and foremen.
In the mining industry the bulk of workers are recruited through intermediaries. Broadly speaking, in India, unlike other countries, there is no distinct class of miners. Workers are recruited from the agricultural classes, who generally return to their villages for seasonal agricultural operations. The oldest system of recruitment for coal mines was the Zamindari system, under which labourers were tempted to the mines with offers of plots of land either free of cost or at nominal rents. Labourers held these plots on the condition of working in the mines. Paucity of cultivable land near coalfields, on the one hand, and the not too encouraging results as regards output of such workers on the other, have now rendered the system more or less obsolete. The Royal Commission also condemned the system, stating that it was an "undesirable form of contract". Some mines have recently introduced systems of direct recruitment by sending out paid agents to recruiting areas. But indirect methods are still widely prevalent. Several mines engage recruiting contractors who supply labour, while some engage managing contractors, who not only supply labour but are also responsible for arising coal and developing mines and even for part of the management.
The most common form of recruitment, however, is through the raising contractors who bear all expenses of recruitment and are responsible for coal cutting and loading for which they are paid at a certain rate per ton. It may be incidentally noted that during war time Government also acted as contractors for supply of unskilled labour to coal mines owing to scarcity of labour and urgency of coal requirements.
In other mining industries, the position is somewhat different. The Iron Ore mining companies recruit their own labour direct locally. When fresh labour is required the companies' mates are asked to inform the workers who spread the news in the villages. Thereafter men gather at the companies' offices and are enlisted according to requirements. Labour for contract work in the quarries is recruited from the surrounding districts by the contractors through recruiting sardars or sub-contractors. In Mica mines, Labour is recruited through sardars who are sent out with funds to villages in the vicinity. They pay advances to willing recruits and bring them to the mines. The recruiting sardars are not paid any commission but their wages depend on the number of workers recruited by them. The mines that are owned by zamindars obtain their labour from among the tenants of the proprietors. The bulk of the labour in Manganese mines in C. P. recruited by raising contractors. About 50 per cent. of the workers belong to the aboriginal classess.' In the Shivrajpur mine in the Bombay Province recruitment is done through tindals. In the Sandur State nearly 50 per cent. of the labour is imported and is settled near the mines. The rest are local villagers coming' daily to the mines from a distance of 5 to 10 miles. In Gold mining, the labour is recruited through the respective "time offices".
In the plantations, recruitment is governed by the Tea Districts Emigrant Labour Act of 1932 in the case of Assam, but there is no regulation in other areas. Even for Assam, the present control is only in respect of forwarding the assisted recruits and not the methods or agencies of recruitment, and the Act applies only to labour migrating from the six Provinces where notifications under Section 16 of the Act have been issued. Recruits are mostly aboriginals and are drawn mainly from Bihar, Orissa and C. P. Almost all the recruitment is done by the Tea Districts Labour Association set up by the tea industry of this purpose; the Association makes arrangements' for forwarding recruits, though actual recruitment is largely done by the garden sardars who get a commission. In Bengal recruitment is done for the gardens in the Dooars mainly from Bihar. There is little or no recruitment in the Darjeeling District. In South India, labour is recruited from neighbouring areas through kanganies, who are generally drawn for the ranks of estate labourers themselves. The kanganies get only a commission on the wages of the workers , and they help the later in difficulties, advance small amounts and act as intermediaries between them and the manager. They differ in this respect from the garden sardars of Assam in that the latter have no connection (as the former have) with labour after recruitment. Moreover, pre-employment advances are common in South India but not in Assam.- Under the Tea District Emigrant Labour Act, the worker has a right of repatriation at the expense of the garden after 3 years' work; in South India, however, workers are recruited for a period of 9 or 10 months only after which they return home, and a large majority of these come back to the same estate after respite. Another interesting feature of recruitment in plantations is the the basis of recruitment is
the family, though this is also true, to a smaller extent, of the mining industry and some of the unorganised industries like shellac, mica, etc. in which families work in teams.
In many industries in India the system of contract labour appears to be firmly entrenched while the exigencies of the last war seem to have only accentuated this tendency. The principal industries in which contract labour is largely employed are engineering Central and Provincial Public Departments, the cotton textile industry in some areas (especially Ahmedabad), dockyard, cement, paper, coir-matting and mining. In the cotton textile industry, contract labour is largely employed for work such as mixing, combing, dyeing, bleaching, finishing, etc. In Ahmedabad, for example, about 10 percent, of the total number of workers are employed through contractors. In the cement, paper and coir-matting industries, contract labour forms from 20 to 25 per cent. of the total. In mines, as already stated, the bulk of the labour engaged is through contractors. The raising contractors in manganese mines not only recruit their labourers but pay them wages and often provide welfare amenities. Even in such a well-organised and long-established industry like gold mining in Kolar, 6358, workers out of 19,936 were under contractors. Even, in mines employing labourers direct, such ancillary work as development etc. is given to contractors. In Bengal dockyards, about 43 per cent. of the total number of workers are employed through contractors. In plantations, contract labour is rare and is confined to feeling trees, building quarters or maintenance of roads, etc.
Immediate employment of a large labour force at short notice to facilitate speedy execution of work, the want of adequate supervisory staff and the absence of adequate machinery of Employment Exchanges, which could supply the required number of workers when needed, have been one of the reasons advanced in favour of the employment of contract labour. Whatever may be the grounds advanced by employers, it is to be feared that the disadvantages of the system are far more numerous and weightier than the advantages. In the first place, the contract system undoubtedly enables the principal employers to escape most of the provisions of the Labour Acts, especially the Factories Act, the Payment of Wages Act, the Maternity Benefit Act, etc., though the Workmen's Compensation Act protects the worker from the evils of vicarious liability arising from the contract system. In a factory, mine, or workshop the contract labour is here today and gone tomorrow, and it become difficult for the administrators of the law to come to grips with the system. In this connection the Royal Commission aptly remarked:
"We have found it to be generally true that workmen employed by salaried managers, who are personally responsible for their workers, receive more consideration than those employed by contractors.'.............We believe that, whatever the merits of the system in primitive times, it is now desirable, if the management is to discharge completely the complex responsibility laid upon it by the law and by equity, that the ) manager should have full control over the selection, hours of work and payment of the workers".
F.N. Report p.5.
The Bihar Labour Enquiry Committee likewise have condemned the system of recruitment through contractors, who, according to the Committee. "Ordinarily lack the sense of moral obligation towards labour' which the employers or their managers are expected to have, and, therefore, do not often hesitate to exploit the helpless position of labour in their charge.''2 The Bombay Textile Labour Enquiry committee agrees with this view,1 and further state, in regard to the cotton mill worker that "if the management of the mills do not assume responsibility for such labour, there is every likelihood of its being sweated and exploited by the contractor". That brings us lo the second point. The contractor has obtained his contract by virtue of his being the lowest bidder for the work, and naturally, unless he pays low wages and intensifies the pace of work, be cannot earn any profit. Thus, ultimately this results in the sweating of labour. Thirdly, it is clear that one of the main reasons for which employers m some of the industries favour the contract system is that, apart from administrative, convenience they find if also financially profitable in the short run. It is doubtful, however, if an enlightened employers would regard this advantage as of any very great-importance. In view of these considerations, not only the Royal Commission but also the Bombay and Bihar Committees have suggested legal abolition of the system of contract labour, and we fully endorse that suggestion. Of course, we cannot expect' that all contract work will be necessarily terminated; but some sort of distinction between essential and non-essential processes will have to be drawn. For example if a textile factory owner calls a building contractor for painting or, white-washing which are not part of the essential processes in the factory, there can be no objection; but the manner in which employers seek to avoid their obligations towards workers by delegating even essential processes (for example mixing, or bleaching in a textile mill or raising of coal in a coal mine, etc.) can and should be prohibited. In the special case of P.W.D. labour, however, the Royal Commission agreed that employment through contractors was the only satisfactory method, stating that with the repeal of the Workmen's Breech of Contract Act, the power of contractors to retain unwilling labour had gone and both Government and contractors must depend on making conditions attractive. We do not wholly agree with this laissez faire view of the matter and are-inclined to think that although in the P.W.D. and in the building trades generally, contract labour is advantageous, freedom of contract does not necessarily secure attractive conditions for the worker. As our survey of C.P.W.D. labour shows, contract labour is not favourably placed. The only method of tackling the problem, therefore, is to regulate the conditions of contact labour in all industries, where it existence is inevitable.
In order to obviate the evils of recruitment by jobbers, some industrial concerns have sought to introduce a system of recruitment through Labour Officers. Thus, for example, in the Batta Shoe Co., at Calcutta, the Scindia Shipyard at Vizagapatam and the Assam Oil Co., at Digboi, the responsibility for recruitment is that of the labour officer or Labour Superintendent. Sometimes these officers go to the recruiting villages and contact labour, but their opportunities are circumscribed by the fact that they are strangers and cannot inspire the same degree of confidence
in the labour as people with some locus stand with the result that more often than not, instead of effecting direct recruitment, the Labour Officers serve only as a screen behind which the sardari type of recruitment is still continued. In the Madura Mills Co. in South India, there is an understanding between the management and the Labour Union that vacancies should be notified to the Union; The Union maintains a list of the relatives of work-people in the mill in search of jobs and also of the former temporary employees of the mills. On receiving intimation the Union recommends names for vacancies. The selection is made by the management usually from the list supplied by the Union. Probably the only real remedy lies in having a wide net work of Employment Exchanges, Employment Exchanges can not only prevent the abuses of recruitment through jobbers bat are also bound to prove a more efficient system of recruitment for skilled and semi-skilled labour and also perhaps for unskilled labour. We shall, therefore, consider, this very important agency of recruitment in the next section.
The Royal Commission, while considering the measures, to be adopted for unemployment resulting from economic depressions, discounted the utility of Employment Exchanges as an instrument of reducing unemployment. At the same time they admitted that these could "only increase the mobility of labour' and opined as follows: "Such bureaux not in the industrial centres but in the areas from which the workers are drawn, might have served a useful purpose in the past. We do not think that it would be wise to start them at a time when most factory owners can find sufficient labour at the gates1. Notwithstanding this view, there is an increasing .volume of opinion in favour of establishing Employment Exchanges and a majority of employers and their associations, as well as worker's associations, favour the establishment of Employment Exchanges for all industrial centres. Even if Employment Exchanges do not increase employment at best they can reduce 'frictional'1 unemployment), they can at least remove the abuses of the present system of recruitment and save employers the trouble and expenses of active recruiting. Employment Exchanges are no longer to be regarded as institutions for the mere convenience of employers but should take their proper place in any orderly system of industrial relations. The All-India Trade Union Congress suggest that Employment Exchanges should render free service and that Central and Provincial Advisory Committees should be fanned to help and advise them. The functions of employment offices can be many, but their main work consists of: (a) dissemination of information about man-power and jobs; (b) the placement work properly so called; (c) appraisal of training needs and review of existing training plans; (d) vocational guidance and occupational information; (e) general information on employment useful for employers, Government agencies and the public generally; and (f) liaison work with various groups (including employers and workers) and close co-operation with other Government agencies. If these functions are fully discharged by Employment Exchanges, they are bound to prove useful in galvanising the employment market.
The Government of India have now set up an Employment machinery mainly with the object of re-settlement and re-employment of demobilised members of the Defence Services and discharged workers
engaged in war work. Although the primary object is at present the re-settlement of demobilised men, it is hopped that this machinery would ultimately develop into an instrument of long-term policy for achieving the ideal of full employment and for co-ordinating the man-power requirements of the various development plants with those of private industries. Meanwhile, the Employment Exchanges will help to smooth the transition from War to Peace, assist the workers to find the most suitable employment and employers to secure the most suitable men, and also ensure that the time-lag between the occurring of vacancies and their filling is as short as possible. They are-expected also to see that the necessary skill is available in the market and is distributed satisfactorily among the various branches of production. The idea at present is to set up a network of Employment Exchanges throughout the country to facilitate registration and placement of demobilised persons. One Central and nine Regional Exchanges are already functioning, the Central Exchange being located at Simla and the Regional Exchanges at Lahore, Karachi Calcutta, Nagpur, Bombay, Madras, Patna, Cawnpore and Delhi. In addition, it is also proposed to start two special Exchanges for Naval, and Aircraft trades at Bombay and Bangalore respectively. Besides these, 59 Sub-Regional Exchanges spread throughout the country and several Employment Information Bureaux are also proposed to be started shortly. The function of the Central Employment Exchange is to coordinate the work of Regional Exchanges and to act as an inter-provincial clearing house, while that of Regional Exchanges is to co-ordinate the work of Sub-Regional Exchanges within their respective areas and to act as provincial clearing houses. A section of each Regional Exchange is also set apart for registration and placement work, especially for higher grade jobs. Sub-Regional Exchanges are responsible for the registration and placement of personnel within their respective areas, and a number of employment information bureaux attached to it will perform agency functions and form a link between the demobilised persons and the Sub-Regional Exchanges. Workers can register at the Employment Information Bureaux also.
Training of workers, in the" case of industries involving technical or semi-technical processes, may be regarded as falling into two main Parts:
(a) vocational education, and (b) practical training of apprentices. So far as vocational education is concerned, since the Royal Commission reported, much work has been done, and the matter has received considerable attention at the hands of both the Central Government and some of the Provincial Governments. It is being increasingly recognised that it is one of the responsibilities of Government to establish an adequate number of 'specialised vocational, industrial trade and technical institutions. The Abbot-Wood Report and the Sargent Report have both emphasised this aspect of the matter. In 1938 the Government of Bombay also appointed a committee on vocational training for boys and girls in schools. Simple vocational education, combined with a drive for literacy, in a basic necessity, so far as the vast masses of industrial workers in India are concerned. This will have to be followed up, in particular cases, by specialised vocational education either in technical institutes established by Government or by employers. When the Royal Commission reported, schemes of vocational education and practical training were already in operation in most Railway workshops, in the Iron and Steel Works at Jamshedpur and in many other factories. Since then, as
our account in the following paragraphs' will show, considerable progress has. been made. However, industries are still manned by a large number of inefficient men, and it is to be feared that much of the backwardness of industries in competitive production vis-a-vis other countries is due to this factor. The Bombay Textile Labour Inquiry Committee rightly place the responsibility for this state of affairs upon the State and the employers when they state.1 "Among employers in the textile industry in this province, as among employers in most other industries in India and elsewhere, the belief is current that workers are not as efficient as they ought to be. If there is any justification for this belief the responsibility for the present state of things rests more upon the shoulders of the State and the employers than upon those of the workers". As already stated, however, industrial training pre-supposes a sound basis of universal literacy, and this problem is really too vast to be tackled by any particular employer or group of employers. It is a hopeful sign of the times, therefore, that the Government of India have now with a desire to implement the proposals of the Sargent Report and as part of their programme of post-war planning taken up this question of literacy and vocational education in right earnest.
Here it may be worth while to, give a brief description of the various schemes of vocational^ training and apprenticeship in operation in industrial concerns as well as in other institutions. Railway workshops have a system of apprenticeship under which lower-grade apprentices are trained for skilled employments as workmen and high-grade apprentices are trained for the posts of foremen. The -Railways also provide area schools in several places, a technical school at Jamalpur and Staff College at Dehra Dun." In some other industries, a few establishments, such as the Sone Valley Portland Cement Company of Bihar, the Assam Oil Company, the Tata Oil Mills Company of Bombay, the Tata Iron and Steel Company, the Tinplate Co., of India, and some other engineering works in' Bombay, Bengal, Madras, U.P. and the Punjab, have well defined apprenticeship schemes. Many Government and semi-Government concerns, the Dockyards at Bombay, Calcutta and Karachi and Port Trusts and Port workshops at Calcutta, Madras and Vizagapatam, a few Railways and some municipalities have also training schemes for apprentices. A few employers organisations have arrangements for the training of apprentices but the schemes leave much to be desired; The Mill-owner's Association, Bombay, encourages workers to join the Social Service League's Textile Technical School in Bombay, the expenses being met by the Milts. .Nearly 500 workers are thus trained at the Institute every year. The Victoria Jubilee Technical Institute. The Haji Saboo Siddik Industrial and Technical Institution and the Sassoon Polytechnical School—all of Bombay—provide courses in textile technology and other subjects to students. Similar technical institutes have been started at Bangalore, Cawnpore, Calcutta and other places. The Government of Bombay has a scheme of apprenticeship training under which the Director of Industries selects a number of candidates and puts them in various establishments for training, The period of apprenticeship is five years and the Government pays the apprentices a stipend of Rs. 15 p. m. in the first year, rising up to Rs. 20. The most ideal scheme- of training is that of the Tata Iron and Steel Co., at Jamshedpur under which the apprentices get practical training at the works and theoretical guidance at . the Technical Institute.
F.N. Report, p. 350.
In some industries like glass, rice mills, and cotton ginning, although there is no well-defined system of apprenticeship training for periods of one to three years is given to a few youngsters, mostly relatives of those already in service. A small allowance is also granted to them during this period of training. In several unorganised industries such as carpet weaving, bidi and cigar-making, mica splitting etc., children are brought to the workshop by workers with a view to getting help from them as well as training them. These children are not always relatives of workers but sometimes children of neighbours or friends, wanting to learn the trade. The workshop managers have no hand in such training. Payment for these trainees is not universal, although some are paid a pittance of one anna to two annas for such help as they may render.
Under the Technical Training Scheme of the Labour Department of the Government of India, many technicians were trained under the auspices of the National Service Labour Tribunals in Government and private factories throughout India and also a few technicians (Bevin Boys) abroad. With the end of war, the Government are now likely to give up the scheme. But the Education Department in collaboration with the Planning and Development Department, may take over the entire training machinery, so as to render it useful for the programmes of post-war planning.
The total number of apprentices trained in some typical concerns during 1938—43 and the number of them who qualified and were absorbed in the respective concerns is given in the following table based upon figures supplied to the Committee:—
Figures relating to Apprenticeship.
|Name of Concern||Engaged (1938-43)||Qualified||Absorbed in the concern||Qualified but left for service elsewhere.||Did not qualify||Still under training|
|Andhra Paper mills.||7||7||7|
|Ahmedabad Millowners Association||387||76|
|Sone Valley Portland|
|Cement Co., Bihar||56||17||12||5||6|
|Tata Iron & Steel Co.||40|
|Tinplate Co. of India Golmuri, (1942-44)||40||2||2||38|
|Ganesh Flour Mill Co.|
|Tata Oil Mills Co., Bombay||224||82||49||33||129||13|
|H. M. I. Dockyard, Bombay||367||31||28||3||21|
|Madras Port Trust .||33||I||1||15||17|
|B. N. Railway, Calcutta .||1077||304||298||6||150||623|
|Port of Calcutta||28||19||5||14||13||..|
|O. & T. Rly. Gorakhpore .||40||39||21||18|
|Manora Workshop, Karachi||54||5||2||3||15|
|Kargali & Dokaro Collieries.||6||5||2||3||1|
|General and Electrical Workshops, Corporation of Madras||86||1||46||124||10|
In most cases, the terms of apprenticeship or training are not precisely defined. Nor is there always any guarantee of employment after the period of training if over. Generally speaking, the terms of Apprenticeship, where those are more or' less defined, are as follows: Apprentices are generally asked to execute an agreement that they would serve the concern for a period of years, e.g., three or five years. For the first six months, they are usually on probation, during which time the apprenticeship may be terminated on 14 days' notice on either side. After being selected, apprentices are required to undergo a medical examination by the company's doctor or to produce a certificate of medical fitness. A minimum educational qualifications, such as the Matriculation standard's is often insisted upon. For ordinary apprenticeship courses, however, a much lower standard is regarded as sufficient; Apprentices are ordinarily required to be of the age of 15 to 19. They have to follow factory discipline and are required to obey all rules and regulations and the instructions from their superiors. They are not allowed to join trade unions or to take part in their activities. They are required to attend the technical classes. In a few concerns, deposit of a security of Rs. 50 to Rs. 100 is required, and this is forfeited, if the apprentices fail to qualify after the period of apprenticeship or are dismissed for misconduct. They are paid wages generally ranging from As. 8 to Rs. 1-4-0 per day and an annual increment is mostly granted. After completion of the period of apprenticeship, tests are conducted and if the apprentices come out successful they get certificates to that effect. There is, however, no guarantee, as stated already, that after qualifying they would be given employment. Of course, the concerns try as far as possible to absorb them in their services and if so employed their period of apprenticeship also generally counts towards service. One common complaint, however, made by employers is that the apprentices after training do not always accept employment in the concern but prefer to take up work in other concerns.
After studying the various schemes of apprenticeship whether subject to agreement or not, which are in operation in different industries, we feel that there is much scope for abuses here. The most serious abuse of the system is when an employer engages workmen, who are as good as regular workers as mere apprentices and pays them low wages or no wages at all. The Bihar Labour Inquiry Committee drew attention to this evil:
"A few cases have come under our observation elsewhere in which people supposed to be apprentices were doing work like other regular workers but without any payment. It was usual for them, we were told, to work on until they were absorbed when vacancies occurred in due course. It was argued that these people were not a source of profit to the management if account was taken of the damage to tools or loss of materials for which they were responsible. The argument is hardly convincing, and excepting when such apprenticeship is for the briefest period,' there is likely to be a balance of gain to the employer. We cannot possibly leave him in a position to benefit from unpaid labour. We have also found cases where the apprentices who were taken over into its service by the industry after the completion of their training were paid less than the standard wage."
F.N. Report p. 50.
Not only are apprentices employed on low or no wages; in some cases they have themselves to pay fees to. concerns for training. For example, in certain electrical concerns, apprentices have to pay the employers for the training afforded. To the extent that the apprentices actually pay in kind with their labour for the training given to them, it is not quite fair that in respect of wages their position should be so distinctly inferior to that of workers. Moreover, the substerfuge adopted by some employers of maintaining apprentices for long periods without giving them certificates and making them work as ordinary workers on low wages is to be deprecated. If Minimum Wage legislation is undertaken in India, there will have to be legal provision so as to prevent employers from taking shelter under this and avoiding the requirements of the minimum wage laid down, Secondly, it is necessary that the apprentices should be given some guarantee of employment after their training period is over. Of course, employers are justified in training a somewhat larger number of apprentices than their annual intake requires, to be on the safe side, but if they are not a in position to provide employment, they should at least help the apprentices to obtain employment elsewhere. In this connection, the creation of a wide-spread network of Employment. Exchanges may no doubt be helpful in placing such trained men in service. Thirdly, it appears the apprentices are not given certificates of efficiency as readily as is desirable. This leads to a sense of injustice and frustration among the apprentices. It is clear, therefore, that the conditions of work and their terms of employment cannot be left to be decided by the employers alone and that there should be some regulation of such conditions and terms by a specific law of apprenticeship In this connection we may quote the following recommendations from the Report of an Apprenticeship Committee of Kingston, Jamaica, regarding the enactment of a new law applicable generally, to apprenticeship in all industries:
"It is recommended that the existing Apprenticeship Law should be repealed and replaced by a new law drafted in the light of present-day requirements and covering the measures applicable generally to apprenticeship in all industry: such a law should be framed in accordance with the Committee's other recommendations. The new law should include provisions for the establishment of an Apprenticeship Board in which would be vested responsibility for the administration of the law; this Board should comprise three representatives of employers, there representatives of workers and one representative from each of the following : the Education Department, the Labour Department, and the social welfare agencies. The determinations of the Board after approval by the Governor in Privy Council should immediately acquire the force of law. The Education Department the Labour Department, trade unions and employers should co-operate to set up vocational guidance committees throughout the Island and to improve the arrangements governing the selection and recruitment of apprentices. The minimum commencing age for apprentices should be 15 years. Probation periods should be prescribed after consultation with representatives of workers and employers in the trade concerned, regulations under the proposed Apprenticeship Law. After similar consultation, the Board should be empowered to fix the period of apprenticeship in each occupation. Particulars of every apprenticeship and learner ship entered into should be registered with the Board. The practice of premium apprenticeship should be rigidly controlled by the Board to prevent' abuse. In collaboration with existing trade or minimum wage boards, or after consultation with the relevant employer's and workers' representatives, the Apprenticeship Board should assume the responsibility for determining minimum wage rates and controlling hours of work: the regulations it frames should include provision for annual vocation, sick
F.N. Report of the Apprenticeship Committee, December, 1943, Kingstone, Jamaica, quoted in Internal Labour Review, March, 1945, p.373.
leave and study leave for apprentices. Only employers duly approved by the Board should be allowed to indenture apprentices. The ratio of apprentice1 to skilled workers should be supervised with due regard to the future needs and absorptive capacity of the respective industries. Special Government welfare officers, attached to the Labour Department, should be empowered to enter premises where apprentices or learners are employed for the purpose of enquiring into and reporting on the general conditions under, which the trainees are required to work".
Workers are generally classified into permanent, temporary, badli, casual and probationers and apprentices. Classifications however, differ from industry to industry and from area to area. Broadly speaking, in the textile industry workers are classified as permanent, temporary and badli, while in other industries they are classified into permanent, temporary and causal. In Madras, only in the cotton textile industry, workers are classified as badli, while in Bombay even in some industries outside the textile group some workers are classified as badli. A large majority of the factory workers in India fall under the permanent class, although during war, the proportion of permanent workers has been up set in some of the war expanded industries which had to take on a number of additional hands on a temporary basis.' Temporary workers predominate in certain seasonal and unorganised industries, such as sugar factories, rice milling, shellac, cotton, ginning, etc. In such industries however, there is a nuclear supervisory and technical staff consisting of engineers, mistries, firemen, etc., who continue on a permanent basis, while most of the Unskilled workers .are recruited on a temporary basis. The privileges of the permanent workers are not always clearly defined; but when they are so defined they are generally as follows:—
(1) Aright of 14 day's or one month's notice or pay in lieu thereof, in the event of dismissal;
(2) Casual leave oft between 10 and 14 days in a year and in some concerns sick leave as well:
(3) Privilege leave, usually one month, after one year's service ,
(4) Benefit of provident fund or gratuity;
(5) A right to take loans from the Co-operative Society of a concern, where one exists;-
(6) A right to a service certificate when leaving the concern either on discharge or dismissal; and
(7) Sundry benefits such as grain concession, etc.
Temporary workers are those engaged on work of temporary nature and their number varies from time to time in accordance with the extent of such work on hand. In several establishments temporary workers also get casual leave, sick leave and privilege leave, but the leave period is usually shorter. Temporary workers are seldom admitted to the benefit of provident fund or gratuity "schemes; but in some cases they are entitled to share profit bonuses.
Badli or substitute workers are a reserve labour force to replace permanent or temporary workers who are absent on account of sickness or other causes. The textile mills of Bombay and Sholapur have devised a system of badli, control with the two-fold purpose of giving the badlis regular employment and eliminating the influence exercised by the jobber in the recruitment of labour.1 But in some other textile concerns, especially Nagpur the badli system is still uncontrolled and the badli worker is favoured and cultivated with a view to creating '' a second line of defence" in the event of strikes and lock-outs. Not only this, but some employers are of the opinion that it is very charitable on their part to distribute work amongst the unemployed in this fashion. It is noticed that in some centres employers actually encourage the employment of badlies by sending out permanent or temporary workers on 'compulsory leave' so as to make room for the badli workers. Such use of the badlies system is highly objectionable. Of course, some amount of substitute labour is inevitable to fill the gap created by absenteeism, but the percentage of badlies should have some relationship with absenteeism. This is what the "badli control' system effectively secures, and where such a system operates the percentage of badlies is less than 10, while elsewhere it can be as high as 50.
Causal or faltu labour is that employed from day to day to undertake a particular extra piece of work. They do not qualify for any privileges or concessions and are paid off from time to time.
Generally when vacancies occur in the permanent cadres, preference for selection is given to badli or temporary worker. Selection, however, does not depend merely upon the length of service but upon ability. There are no definite rules regarding promotion of temporary or badli workers as permanent hands, and the workers' organisations have urged the necessity of such rules.
As stated earlier, there is generally no separate class of miners in the mining industry. Nor is there any classification of mines, as temporary or permanent, as virtually all miners are temporary. In a few mines, however, a small proportion of workers, mainly supervisory staff are departmentally engaged and given certain privileges such as provident fund, gratuity, etc. These must be 'considered as permanent. A very large percentage of miners return to mines regularly after their seasonal exodus and for all practical purposes they may be considered as permanent, although they do not enjoy many of the privileges of permanency. Likewise, in the plantation industry, the percentage of workers permanently settled is small. In the North-East Indian plantations the percentage of workers permanently settled is large in the Surma Valley
F.N. In this connection see Appendix VIII "Badli Control System"—which gives details of Recommendations made by the Millowners' Association. Bombay, to its constituents in regard to labour matters. The Assam Oil Co., Digboi, also has a pool system designed to avoid a high rate of turnover among temporary workers. The fluctuating needs for unskilled labour in different departments are met from a common pool of workers. The pool is under the direct control of the Labour Superintendent who maintains the strength of the pool at a particular level so as to meet all probable departmental requirements and at the same time cause no under employment among workers. The pool men are permanent employees of the Company and having worked in different departments gain an opportunity of learning different types of work. Permanent vacancies in particular departments are frequently filled by appointing the pool men.
of Assam and in the Darjeeling district of Bengal. In the South Indian plantations, the normal period of engagement for plantation labour is ten months, after which the workers go back to their villages and may or may not return to the same estate though in actuality quite a large number do so return to the same estate and the percentage of such workers is between 60 and 90. In all seasonal factories and many of the unorganised industries the labour employed is, in the very nature of the case, temporary, recruited definitely for the working season. In the unorganised industries, moreover, there cannot be many privileges, such as provident fund, gratuity etc., owing to the small scale of organisation. In some industries, however, the practice is prevalent of paying a 'retainer' to temporary workers at the end of the season or when the immediate work is over. Thus in the sugar industry, a retention fee is paid by some concerns to the workers, one half at the close of season and the other, half at the beginning of the next season. Likewise, in the Madras Port Trust, a similar 'retainer' is paid to those workers who may be present at the end of the month.
A striking feature of Indian industry is the large number of women and children employed, especially in the unorganised industries, mine (mainly on the surface) and plantations. In the cotton textile industry, about 12 per cent of the workers employed are women a majority of whom are paid on the piece basis. In the woollen and silk industries and in seasonal factories like cotton ginning and haling, rice mills, tea factories and coffee curing works, women are employed in large numbers. In unregulated factories like mica-splitting, bidi-making shellac, glass, etc. both women and children are employed in large numbers. In mica and bidi factories a system of home work for women and children is also widely prevalent. As stated elsewhere the employment of children in these factories is often in flagrant violation of the Employment of Children (Amendment) Act of 1939. In manganese mines as they are mostly quarries or open workings, women workers are employed and form about 50 per cent. of the total labour force. In plantations, over 40 per cent. of the labour consists of women, and about 10 to 15 per cent. of children. In the rubber estates, however, women and children are not so largely employed.
Classification of workers as supervisory and clerical staff, as ordinary workers, directly employed, and as contract labour, has also been made. Figures in the accompanying table, (Table 38) give some idea regarding the distribution of workers as supervisory and clerical, departmental and contractors' labour. It will appear that for the few concerns for -which information was available the proportion of clerical staff to total number of workers was higher In the chemical industry and in municipalities and lower in the minerals and metals and textile industries, while it was medium in other industries.
Workers employed directly through contracts and Supervisory Staff.
The Millowners' Association, Bombay which has as members factories employing more than 200,000 textile workers, have stated that contract labour employed by members is only about 1 per cent. or the total labour force and supervisory and clerical staff about 2 per cent. The proportion of contract labour is very high in the minerals and metals industry, as these largely depend upon such labour.
Information about the length of service of operatives was available directly only from a few concerns. Apart from this figures have been available in the ad hoc survey Reports of the Committee. Both sets of figures have been analysed and set out in two tables given in Tables 39 and 40. It may be seen that Government and semi-government bodies and municipalities have a larger percentage of workers with long service. This is so, obviously because in these concerns the workers have a greater security of tenure. Among other groups of industries, engineering chemicals, glass, gold mining, paper and printing presses appear to have a larger percentage of workers with long service, mainly because some of these industries themselves have been long established ones, and also because the workers get the benefit of provident fund and gratuity. Another reason may be that in some of these industries there is a predominance of skilled workers who are generally more stable and also more dependent on industrial employment than workers in industries where less skill is required, as in seasonal industries and unregulated factories, the workers move from concern to concern and the majority of such workers have only less than one year's service. To some extent length of service depends also on home ties and lack of suitable alternative employment in the neighbourhood. This is particularly true of gold-mining and certain textile centres. In these industries, owing to the predominance of unskilled labour (which is readily available), employers do not mind the high rate of turnover. Nevertheless, where any employer gives benefits in consideration of permanency such as provident fund, gratuity or pensions, the workers generally stick on to the same establishment. For instance, in the tobacco industry in Central and South India, labour turnover is very high and the average length of service of operatives very short in most concerns. But the Spencer & Co.'s factory at Dindigul has a pensions scheme for workers retiring after long service, and in this factory we find that the majority of them have over ten year's service.
Length of service of Operations in Various Industries. [This Table is based on Ad Hoc Survey Reports],
Length of service of Operations in certain concerns.
For absenteeism and labour turnover full and reliable figures were not readily available. Very few industrial concerns collect figures of absenteeism and even these do not appear to have been based upon any standard definition of absenteeism. The difficulty in the past has been that no such definition has been uniformly suggested. The following definition of absenteeism as stated in a recent circular of the Labour Department, Government of India, issued to the Provincial Governments appears suitable;—
"The absenteeism rate is defined as the total man-shifts lost because of absences as a percentage of the total number of man-shifts scheduled. For calculating the rate of absenteeism we require the number of persons scheduled to work and the number actually present. A Worker who reports for any part of a shift is to be considered as present. An employee is to be considered scheduled to work when the employer has work available and the employee is aware of it, and when a employer has no reason to expect, well in advance, that the employee will not be available for work at the specified time. The following examples will illustrate the application of the principle. An employee on as regularly scheduled vacation should not be considered .as scheduled work to or absent. The same is true during an employer-ordered lay-off. On the other hand, an employee who requests time-off at other than a regular vacation period should be considered as absent from scheduled work until he returns, or until it is determined that the absence will be of such duration that his name is removed from the list of active employees. After this dale he should be considered as neither scheduled to work nor absent. Similarly, an employee who quits without notice should be considered as absent from scheduled work until his name is dropped from the-active list, but preferably this period should not exceed one week in either case. If a strike is in progress workers on strike, should be considered as neither scheduled to work nor absent since data on time lost because of strikes are collected by other means."
We are afraid that the figures actually available to us have not been based on such a definition or any other uniform definition. If reliable figures of absenteeism are required, the obvious course for any statistical agency, whether sponsored by Government or private body, would be to require employers first to maintain figures on the basis of a precise and uniform definition. Then alone would figures be comparable. Otherwise, as pointed out by the C.P. and Berar Textile Labour Enquiry Committee, 1941 in their Report at p. 51, there is bound to be considerable disparity. Thus, as between Bombay and Ahmedabad mills on the one hand and Nagpur on the other, the percentage of absenteeism as calculated after including or excluding substitute or badli workers, appears to make a great difference, and while the figure for the Empress Mills of Nagpur is near about 30 percent, by excluding substitute labour, that for Ahmedabad bad mills is about 5 per cent. after including it. For this reason the figures reproduced in the Bombay Textile Labour Inquiry Committee's Report (at p. 364) must be accepted with caution because the average figure for Ahmedabad for 1939 is extremely low (3.3 per cent.) as compared to that for Bombay (10.5 per cent.), just because in Ahmedabad, if an absent worker is substituted by a badli worker, absenteeism for him is nil. Detailed figures for percentage of absenteeism in various industries have been reproduced in Table 41. The figures must, however, be accepted with some caution for reasons stated before.
Extent of Absenteeism in Various Industries.
The loss due to absenteeism is two-told. Firstly, there is a distinct loss to workers, because the irregularity in attendance reduces their income, when "no work no pay" is the general rule. The loss to employers is still greater as both discipline and efficiency suffer. Moreover, cither an additional complement has to be maintained throughout the year lo meet this emergency or the industries have to depend solely on workers who present themselves at the gates and who are generally not up to the mark. The maintenance of an extra complement of workers leads to serious complications and evils. In particular, it provides a justification to the employer to provide sufficient work to the substitute workers, and as has been happening for example' in the textile industry at Nagpur; the management have to 'play off' workers and force some of them to take 'compulsory leave'. This is resented by the workers' organisations, which to some extent legitimately, think that the 'compulsory leave' is only one method on the part of employers to maintain a second line of 'defence' in the event of strikes or lock-outs. On the other hand, it was represented to us by the employers that they had no option but to 'play off' workers, in view of the serious degree of absenteeism amongst them, and as they could not always anticipate their precise requirements of labour from day to day in 'certain departments, e.g., reeling and winding departments.
Causes of absenteeism.—The workers remain absent for various reasons of which some may be, genuine but others not so. Sickness is responsible for a considerable part of the absenteeism at most places. Epidemics like cholera, small-pox and malaria always break out in severe form in most industrial areas. The low vitality of the Indian workers makes them an easy prey to such epidemics and bad housing and insanitary conditions of living aggravate the trouble. Broadly speaking there is a greater percentage of absenteeism during the night shifts than in the day shifts, owing to the greater discomfort of work during night time. Change-over of shifts which is permitted under the Standing Orders and effected in a majority of textile mills in Bombay, owing to the efforts of the Millowners' Association, has reduced absenteeism during night shifts. This method, however, is not practised in some of the industrial centres outside Bombay. Probably the most, predominant cause of absenteeism, however, is the frequent urge of the rural exodus. Other causes are industrial accidents, social and religious ceremonies, drinking, amusements, etc., Moreover, the level of absenteeism is comparatively high immediately after the pay day, when the workers either feel like having a "good time" or, in some cases, return to their villages to make* purchases for the family and to meet them.
As regards measures to be adopted for absenteeism, we are inclined to agree with the Bombay Textile Labour Inquiry Committee (Report, p. 364) that "proper conditions of work in the factory, adequate wages protection from accident and sickness and facilities" for obtaining leave for rest and recuperation constitute the most effective means of reducing absenteeism". Excessive fatigue and sweated conditions of work are bound to create a "defence mechanism" in the worker and if abiding results are to be obtained, the best policy would be to improve conditions of work and life for the workers and make them feel contented and happy-There is no doubt that the most effective way of dealing with absenteeism is to provide holidays with pay or even without pay and permit workers to attend to their private affairs occasionally .and thus regularise absenteeism instead of merely taking disciplinary action for it. Provision of suitable housing facilities in industrial towns would also go a longway in improving attendance.
Labour turnover may be defined as the rate of change in the working staff of a concern during a definite period. In other words, it is a measure of the extent to which old employees leave and new employees enter the service of the concern. Labour turnover is at once the cause and effect of instability of employment. It arises mainly from dismissals and resignations Some amount of labour turnover, like frictional unemployment, is in any case inevitable and the natural turnover which arises due to retirement of aged employees and accession of fresh blood may be not only unavoidable but also welcome to some extent. A higher rate of turnover is, however, harmful to the efficiency of the worker as well as to the quality and quantity of production. It is, moreover, a serious obstacle to the complete utilisation of a country's human and material resources, although in a country like India with vast masses of unemployed and under-employed labourers, the national loss due to labour turnover may be of the second order of smalls' so far as full utilisation of such resources is concerned.
The statistical computation of labour turnover is somewhat complicated. Assuming that the total number of jobs available in a concern are constant, labour turnover can be measured by either taking into consideration the total separation rate, or the total accession rate, because the number of workers leaving the concern is likely to be the same as hose joining it. Separation rate, again, can be split up into several sub-rater, according to the causes of separation. Thus, the usual practice is to have different sub-rates called "quit rate", "discharge rate", "layoff rate", etc. In periods of fluctuating employment, however, the total number of jobs available in a concern may vary, and then there may be no correspondence between the separation rate and the accession rate. Secondly, the substitution of labour for short periods, when workers are absent with leave, by badli labour in some of the major industries in India presents another difficulty. In some centres of the cotton textile industry, for example, permanent workers are actually compelled to take "forced leave" and substitutes are appointed in their place. -This gives an appearance of increased labour turnover. In reality, however, the permanent workers neither resign nor are dismissed, and it may be convenient to have a separate labour turnover rate computed for such badli workers as was done in the General Wage Census (Third Report) published by the Bombay Labour Office in 1937. Thirdly, the relation between labour turnover and absenteeism has to be clearly understood. If a worker remains on leave for, say, two to three months and turns up after an interval, the substitution that has taken place during that period will complicate the calculations. Fourthly, a worker who has left one concern and joined another in the same industry raises the labour turnover rates of both concerns, but this may not lead to inefficiency to the same extent as some other kinds of turnover.
In this connection, we are inclined to agree with the Bombay Textile Labour Inquiry Committee (Report p. 362) who observe: "Though a high rate of turnover exists in all organised industries in India, there are no reliable data available concerning the extent of the turnover. Reliable and adequate records uniformly filled in and accompanied by careful and critical analysis are essential and without these the percentages of labour turnover have little practical value." Reliable and adequate records, however, are not a matter entirely in the hands of investigators, as much depends upon the material available from the employers. The Committee
endeavoured to collect such statistics as were readily available, and these have been presented in the ad hoc Survey Reports on various industries, but the statistical value of the figures may not be great, for the reason that the figures supplied by employers were neither uniform nor accurate nor based upon a clear definition of labour turnover. An attempt was made to obtain figures, at least for the separation rate, in a simple form both in the General Questionnaire and in the Ad Hoc Survey Questionnaire. The results have not been very encouraging, and for what they worth, have been given in the ad hoc Survey Reports, and summarised in Tables 42 and 43 here. It is clear that if very accurate and reliable figures of labour turnover are required, this will (as in the case of Absenteeism) necessitate the institution of a special enquiry, or the maintenance of a special statistical organisation, for this purpose among others, so as to furnish statistics of labour turnover, both for separation and for accession. Broadly speaking, however, we are inclined to believe that the figures do give some sort of general idea as to the extent of labour turnover in different industries.
Among the causes of labour turnover, the chief are resignations and dismissals. Resignations may be due to a variety of reasons such as dissatisfaction with working conditions, insufficient wages bad health, sickness, old age, family circumstances and, last but not least, exodus to the village for agricultural operations. The village nexus is still strong in certain industries, especially in mining, South Indian plantations, cotton textiles (except in Bombay), jute textiles, and in many of the unorganised industries like rice-milling, shellac, mica-splitting, etc. Workers who make a periodical exodus to the village for agricultural operations very often regard industrial employment as merely a second string to their bow. As they are afraid that they may not get enough leave for such long absences—and in most cases this fear is justified— they just resign their jobs and go home and after having finished agricultural work return and join some other concern or less frequently while away their time in the village, living on the meagre savings of their previous employment. Some times, in a joint family, adult workers may do industrial work by turns thus maintaining contact with both industry and agriculture. Dismissals, on the other hand, appear to be a lesser cause of labour turnover. Dismissals may be due to disciplinary action in cases of inefficiency, insubordination, participation in strikes, misconduct, etc. Victimisation of workers who interest themselves in trade union activities has also been alleged to be a fruitful cause of dismissals. Labour Turnover, especially among temporary workers, is also accounted for by the discharge of the workers when a particular piece of work for which they have been taken on is completed. A stated earlier, apart from dismissals and resignations the badli system has also contributed to a high labour turnover. Our enquiries were conducted at a time when labour turnover was likely to be at its highest level owing to another cause as well. This was the urgent and competing demands created by war work in industries, defence works and military recruitment. The attraction of high wage rates and other benefits have empted workers to migrate from factory to factory and also from one Province to another. In some of the industries connected with war production, the competition amongst employers has been so great that there has been a scramble for securing labour. This scramble has shown Itself in such activities as sending out recruiting agents to entice away labour employed by other employers by promises of tips and advances. Very often, the biter has been bitten and a worker who has accepted a substantial advance already has decamped elsewhere for a still bigger advance.
Let us now turn to the extent of labour turnover in various principal industries. As already stated accurate figures for labour turnover have not been available and as collection of such figures implies considerable planning on the part of the statistical agency as well as the employers, we can hardly find fault with what has been placed at our disposal. The figures (which are for separation rates) have been presented in Tables 42 and 43. It would appear that the cotton textile industry in Bombay has a somewhat higher monthly turnover rate than in Madura, Calcutta, Nagpur, Akola or Lahore, for the probable reason that the number of mills in Bombay is far greater than anywhere else and it is possible for workers to move from mill to mill. It must be remembered, however, that the figures refer only to permanent workers, and no account has been taken of badli labour, which predominates especially at Nagpur and Madura. In the engineering group, the rates are fairly high, especially at Calcutta and Lahore. The highest rates for any industry are those recorded for the glass industry wherein labour has proved extremely mobile, owing to scarcity of trained men and the anxiety of employers to obtain such men at any cost from anywhere. In the mining section, iron ore has a higher range of rates than gold, mainly because the former requires much less skill than the latter, and also because labour supply (mainly from tribal sources) in the iron ore areas is much more plentiful than in Mysore. In the mineral oil industry, the rates appear to be very high. Thus, at Digboi, Assam the rate has been as high as 18 per cent. in 1939 and 28 per cent. in 1943; while at Attock in the Punjab, the rates are still higher in the refinery, having been 93 per cent. in 1943. This is probably due to the fact that temporary workers, who are included in the calculation, are unstable because of the counter attraction of military employment in the town. In the other industries such as printing presses, woollen textiles, cement, potteries, rice mills, etc., the rates do not on the whole appeal to be excessive, except for particular localities. As regards plantations, owing to the peculiar system of recruitment and repatriation prevalent, there is no point in collecting any data for labour turnover.
The measures to be adopted for reduction of labour turnover imply a positive policy requiring concerted action. Unfortunately, however, it is to be feared that the majority of employers are not alive to the advantages of such reduction, especially in the case of unskilled labour. There is ordinarily such a plethora of unskilled labour available in most areas during peace time, that the employers (except in a few organised industries or where workers are well organised themselves) prefer to have their own way by playing off one labourer against another so as to be able to obtain cheap labour. It is not realised that even the so-called unskilled labourer by continuous practice acquires an efficiency in any particular job, an efficiency which is bound to benefit both the employer and the worker. The agencies of recruitment in most industries provide much scope for corruption and bribery, and the recruiting agents, whether called sirdars, jobbers, kanganies, muccadams, mistries, or by any other name, stand to gain by recruiting more and more men and dismissing old ones, and pocketing tips at each time. Thus, it will be clear that the problem of labour turnover is to a large extent bound up with that of recruitment. Apart from this, any measures conducive to the workers economic advancement and welfare, as well as measures intended to provide security of employment to worker are bound to mitigate the evils of turnover, by reducing the anxiety of the workers to make frequent exoduses to the village and to search for what is often the mirage of
better employment and higher remuneration In this connection, the following remarks of the Bombay Textile Labour Enquiry Committees (Report, p. 363) are worth quoting:-
"Improvement in methods of recruitment is one of the principal remedies for excessive labour turnover. The badli control system introduced by the Millowners' Association, Bombay, has to some extent applied this remedy. But more radical and effective methods such as establishment of employment exchanges, restriction of the powers of the jobber and organisation of a personnel department are required. Improvement of working conditions, adoption of an enlightened policy of management in respect of wages, transfers and promotion, leave and holidays, provision of facilities for education and training, promotion of welfare work, introduction of unemployment and sickness insurance, of gratuities and pensions—these will contribute to make the labour force more stable than it is at present. Not the least important factors contributing to stability will be the attitude of the employers to workers' organisation: and the provision of effective machinery for the ventilation and redress of the grievances of the workers."
Extent of Labour Turnover in various Industries (1939,1943 and 1944)
Monthly Percentage of Labour Turnover in some Concerns for the years 1938 and 1943.