Labour Investigation Committee (1946)||
In this Section, we shall deal with -the position as regards hours of work in different industries, including factory industries, mines, plantations transport and other industries and trades.
(a) Hours of work in Factories
Pursuant to the recommendations of the Royal Commission, the Factories Act of, 1934 has laid down a maximum of ten hours of work in the case of an adult in a perennial factory and 11 hours of work in the case of a male adult in a seasonal factory, with a spreadover of 13 hours per day, no adult worker being allowed to work for more than 54 hours or, where the factory is a seasonal one, for more than 60 hours, in any one week. No woman is allowed to work in a factory except between 6 a. m. and 7 p.m. No child (i.e., a person who has completed his twelfth year but not completed his fifteenth year) and no adolescent (i.e., a person who has completed his fifteenth year but not completed his seventeenth year) are permitted by the Act to work in a factory for more than 5 hours in any day, the spread-over being 7 1/2 between 6 a.m. and 7 p.m. An adolescent, who has been granted a certificate of fitness to work as an adult is treated as an adult for purposes of working hours. The hours of work, spreadover shifts and rest-days in the sampled units in different factory industries are shown in Table 44.
Hours of Work, Spreadover, Shifts and Rest Days in Factory Industries.
Hours of work in most of the factories are from 8, to 9 per day. In several factories where three shifts are worked, the working hours are 7 1/2 per day (excluding 1/2 hour of rest-interval). In some unregulated factories like shellac and carpet, working hours sometimes extend to 12 per day. During war time, some factories such as jute mills, engineering workshops, chemicals, matches, etc., which were on war work, obtained exemptions from the provisions of the Factories Act in respect of hours and rest days and worked from 10 to 12 hours every day. Ordinarily the weekly hours are from 48 to 54. Those factories which have obtained exemptions regarding hours of work and some of the unregulated factories work 56, 60 or even 72 hours per week. As regards spreadover, the practice varies from place to place and industry to industry in accordance with the shifts and recess arrangements of the different factories. Normally, the spreadover is within the provisions of the factories Act and does not exceed 13 hours. In several factories the general day shift starts between 7-30 and 8-30 in the morning and ends between 5-30 and 6-30 in the evening with usually one hours interval for rest in the afternoon. This means that the total spreadover normally ranges between 9 and 11 hours. In factories working multiple shifts the general practice is 3 shifts, each of 7 1/2 or 8 hours duration and, in this case, the spreadover is 8 hours, including a rest interval of 1/2 hour in some cases. In jute mills, the spreadover is 13 to 14 hours. In many factories of a seasonal nature like cotton ginning and baling, and some of the unregulated factories like carpet, bidi and cigar, the spreadover is 12 to 13 hours. Most of the factories give a weekly day of rest. Workers on continuous processes get a fortnightly holiday or their shifts are so arranged that they get a continuous period of 32 hours rest after every 10 to 14 days work. The supervisory staff in some concerns is theoretically on duty for all the seven days of the week. It is strange that shift workers in seasonal factories who work off and on practically throughout the year should not be subject to the same regulation of hours of work as is applicable to workers in perennial factories. As it is, they are usually at per with seasonal workers in respect of days of rest. This is certainly an anomalous position and we feel it should be rectified as soon as possible
(b) Hours of Work in Mines
Under the Mines Act of 1923, as modified up to the 1st October, 1938, a person employed below ground in a mine shall not be allowed to work for more than nine hours per day (the spreadover also being the same) or in the case of a worker employed above ground for more than ten hours a day (the spreadover being 12), the weekly maximum being 54 in both cases. No child is permitted to be employed in a mine and no young person who has not completed his seventeenth year is allowed to work below ground unless he carries a certificate of fitness. The following table gives in a summary form the position in respect of working hours, spreadover and Weekly holidays in certain mining industries investigated by the committee:—
Hours of Work, Spreadover, and Weekly holiday in Mines.
The actual hours of work in mines in general are 6 for underground workers and 9 to 10 for surface workers, In the Salt Mines of the Punjab the working hours for both surface and underground workers are 9 per day and 54 in the week. The spreadover in the case of underground workers is the same as the actual hours of work; while in the case of others it ranges between 9 to 11 hours depending upon the duration of the recess interval. Mines are closed on bazaar day and attendance is very low on the following day.
In the mineral oil industry in Assam, the general workers have to work for 8 hours on week days and 5 1/2 on Saturdays (total 45 1/2), white the hours of work for the shift workers are 7 1/2 per day. The weekly working hours for shift workers in the refinery are 48 whereas for those in the oil field are 56. The spreadover for shift workers is 8 hours and for general workers it is 9 1/2 to 10 hours. The Attock Oil Company has fixed 8 hours per day and 48 hours per week for shift workers while the general shift workers work 8 1/2 hours per day and 48 hours per week both in the refinery and in the oilfields. All shift workers including those continuous processes in the refinery and oilfields get a rest-period of half an hour after 4 1/2 hours' work, but no rest period is allowed at all to shift workers in the oilfields in the Punjab.
It is important to note that contract labour in mines is not governed by any statutory regulations regarding hours of work or holidays. Usually, their working hours are 12 in a day, i.e., from morning till evening, and they enjoy no weekly holidays at all.
(c) Hours of work on Plantations
In plantations there is no statutory regulation regarding hours of work except in the case of tea and rubber factories. Men, women and children work practically the same number of hours though children are allotted light work and they do it rather leisurely.
On the Assam and Bengal tea gardens, work being on the hazira basis, there is no rigid rule regarding the hours of work. Usually one hazira is finished in 5 to 6 hours. After finishing his hazira, a worker is free to take up extra work which is called ticca of doubli. In the plucking season, the pluckers work up to 10 or 11 hours per day with a view to earning more wages. Sunday is usually a rest day on all gardens. In the Kangra Valley, hours of work are 8 to 9 per day, in Dehra Dun 8, and in Almora 6. The spreadover is 9 to 10 hours in Kangra and 9 hours in Dehra Dun during winter and 11 to 11 1/2 hours during summer. One day in the week is generally allowed for rest. In South India, on tea and coffee estates, the daily hours are 8 to 9 and the spreadover 10 to 11 hours. Most of the workers are given a set task and are free to go away when it is finished. Usually it can be finished only in 8 to 9 hours although some skilful workers finish it in 5 to 6 hours. Work generally starts at 7-30 or 8 in the morning and finishes by 5-30 or 6 in the evening. But the workers are required to attend a morning and evening muster which takes about half an hour and an evening is not included in the working hours. The pluckers need not attend the evening muster but have to carry the plucked leaf to the factory for weighment which takes an hour or so. Again, although there is provision for a mid-day interval of one hour, it was almost a universal complaint by the workers that they were not allowed to avail themselves of the interval. On many estates
so worker other than nursing mother is allowed to go to his or her quarters during the so-called mid-day break. The Workers; are, however allowed 5 to 10 minutes time for hasty meal at the place of work if they have brought any food with them Instances are many where the workers' wages have been forefeited for having left the field and gone to their quarters during the so-called mid-day recess. There is also reason to believe that the workers are made to work much later than 5-30 or 6 p. m. In fact, on some estates workers were seen at work even at 7 p.m. On rubber estates, tappers, start work at about 6 a. m. and work till 1 or 2 p. TO. A weekly holiday is allowed on tea and coffee estates, except in times of heavy flush, but not on rubber estates. The tea factories, as well as the larger rubber factories, come under the Factories Act, but only as seasonal factories, though almost all of them work for more than 180 days and most of them Work nearly all the year round.
(d) Hours of work in Transport services
This will be treated under the following two sub-headings:—
(ii) Other forms of Transport.
The Hours of Employment Regulations, 1931, are applicable to all categories of Railway staff on Class I Railways in British India with the exception of (a) the running staff, (b) chowkidars, watermen, sweepers, gatekeepers, etc., (c) persons who hold positions of supervision or management or who are employed in a confidential capacity, and (d) persons employed in a factory within the meaning of the Indian Factories Act. The exclusion of staff in the first three categories does not absolve the Supervisor of Railway labour [Now Chief Labour Commissioner Central] from watching their conditions of work. The fourth category of employees is covered by the Factories Act.
The main provisions of the Hours of Employment Regulations are as follows:—
(1) "A railway servant, other than a railway servant whose employment is essentially intermittent, shall not be employed for more than sixty hours a week on the average in any month". [Section 71 C (i).]
(2) "A railway servant whose employment is essentially intermittent shall not be employed for more than 84 hours in any week". [Section 71C (2).]
(3) Temporary exemptions of railway servants from the provisions of the above sub-sections (1) and (2) may be made in case of exceptional pressure of work, accidents or when urgent work is required to be done to the railway or rolling stock, provided that overtime is paid at riot less than one and a quarter times the ordinary rate of pay."
(4) "A Railway servant whose duties are not essentially intermittent shall be given a rest of not less than 24 consecutive hours each week commencing on Sunday, though the Governor-General-in-Council may, by rules made under Section 71E,
specify the classes of railway servants who may be granted rest on a scale lower than 24 consecutive hours or grant temporary exemptions in case of accidents, exceptional pressure of work, etc. as specified in sub-section (3) of Section 71 C provided that compensatory periods of rest are, granted for the periods of rest foregone."
(5) "A Railway servant exempted under the provisions of subsection (3) of Section 71 D from the grant of rest shall not be required to work for 21 days without a rest of at least 24 consecutive hours." (Rule 7 under Section 71D.)
In accordance with the provisions of the Railway Act, the Government of India had appointed a Supervisor of Railway labour, a Deputy Supervisor and several Inspectors for the purpose of enforcing these regulations on all State-managed Railways. This work is now entrusted to the Chief Labour Commissioner (Central) and his deputies.
Classification of staff.—The crux of the Regulations is the classification of workers as continuous" and "essentially intermittent", since hours of work and periods of rest differ according to the different categories. As the power of declaring a worker as continuous and intermittent is given to the Railway Administration, there is naturally a conflict of opinion between the workers and the managements. The Supervisor of Railway Labour and his staff have devoted considerable attention to this question. They bring cases of doubtful or wrong classification to the notice of the Railway Administration. Cases which are open to doubt are reviewed by Administrations whereas those which obviously involve a breach of the law, are rectified by them.
Temporary Exemptions.—Sub-Rule (i) of Rule 5 empowers the Head of a Railway to make temporary exemptions of railway servants from the limits of hours of work prescribed in Section 71 C and Sub-Rule 2 provides further that the Head of the Railway can delegate this power to subordinate authorities. It is reported that this delegation of power has resulted in several objectionable practices. Records of exemptions are not maintained by subordinates in spite of instructions from the railway administrations. The result is that claims to payments of overtime are bound to fail when they are not supported by relevant records. In August 1942, the Governor-General promulgated the Railways (Hours of Employment) Ordinance "Empowering the Central Government to issue notification to suspend the operation of Chapter VI-A of the Indian Railways Act, 1890, and of the Rules made there under on any specified railway or section of a railway. The ordinance also made it incumbent on Railway Administration to pay to the Railway Employees overtime for extra hours worked during such suspensions at not less than 1 1/2 times their ordinary rate of pay". In 1943-44, this temporary abrogation of the Hours of Employment Regulations was not resorted to on any Railway.
Periods of Rest.—The Regulations do not prescribe the point of time from which compulsory rest should begin or when it should end, but Railway workers are keen that the period of rest should coincide with a calendar day. Such a preference is understandable when, in terms of hours, a calendar day's rest in practice means more than 24.
consecutive hours' actual rest. It is seen, however, from the annual reports of the Supervisor of Railway Labour that there has been an increase in the percentage of staff entitled to 24 consecutive hours' rest in place of a calendar day's rest on some railways which, to say the least, is not a very healthy trend. A calendar day's rat in place of the statutory minimum rest is always welcomed by the employees and attempts should be made to see that their wishes are met with, as far as possible and practicable. Though the rosters provide for rest periods, it is reported that several eases were brought to notice in which, Railway Servants were found working during their periods of weekly rest"1 Moreover, working outside rostered hours is also a common violation, particularly by the Goods Staff on all Railways. This evil is partly or wholly due to the fact that it is not possible for the goods clerks to complete' they work within the rostered hours. In any case, a determined effort is necessary to end this practice.
Continual Night Duty—There is no provision either in the Act or the Rules prohibiting continual employment at night, though Subsidiary Instruction No. 8 issued by the Railway Board contains a directive to the Railway administrations to avoid such employment as far as possible. It is no doubt true that continual night duty cannot always be eliminated especially in the case of certain employees whose presence is required during night, e.g., chowkidars, watchmen, lampmen, and, at certain stations, Assistant Station Masters. Some relief has no doubt been afforded to such workers by transferring them to stations where continual night duty does not obtain. Some of the general conclusions in respect of hours of work in railways may be given below:—
(i) There is a need for the extension of the benefit of the Hours of Employment Regulations to all railways, both in British India and Indian States.
(2) There should be a certain amount of uniformity in respect of classification of workers as intermittent and continuous. The All-India Railwaymen's Federation urged as early as 1930 that this function (of classifying the workers) should be entrusted to a Joint Body of Representatives of Employers' and Workers Organisations according to the spirit of Clause A of Article 6 of Washington Hours' Convention vesting the power of veto, if necessary, in a competent authority.
(3) Although it is more than a decade since the Hours of Employment Regulations were introduced, they do not yet cover the running staff. Surely, they need1 as much protection as any other class of workers.
(4) In the absence of penal provision such as those in the Factories Act, it is doubtful whether infringements of the provisions of the Hours of Employment regulations (in respect of working beyond rostered hours, etc.) could be effectively prevented on the Railways.
(5) It is now rightly demanded by workers that there should be a re-classification of workers, as owing to the increase in the volume of work, workers who were classified formerly as intermittent are now doing continuous work. Moreover, labour feels that the hours of work should be reduced from 84 to 60
F.N. Annual Report on the working of the hours of Employment Regulations, 1940-41, P. 10.
in the case of intermittent workers and from 60 to 48 hours per week in the case of continuous workers. Whether the Railways could bear the necessary additional financial burden or not, the claim for further reduction in working hours and an increase in periods of rest calls for a close scrutiny.
(6) It is alleged by unions that several workers are shown as intermittent although they should be classified as continuous'. and that the railways gain as a consequence. It is also alleged that the mistake is rectified only when cases are brought to their notice. If these allegations are true we feel that the railway authorities should fully regularise the position instead of dealing with stray cases of complaint.
(ii) Other forms of Transport Labour
Tram and Bus workers work for 8 to 8 1/2 hours a day and the weekly maximum is 48 hours. The spreadover is about 12 1/2 hours. The workshop staff are given a weekly holiday on Sunday. Commercial and transportation staff are given 3 to 4 days off every month or wages in lieu thereof. The daily hours of work for port workers are 7 1/2 to 8 1/2 with a spreadover of 8 to 9 1/2 hours. Weekly working hours are 43 to 48. In Departments, where work is of an intermittent character, 8 to 12 hours per day is the rule. One weekly holiday is allowed.
(e) Hours of work for other types of labour
Enquiries were made in relation to three miscellaneous types of labourers, including Municipal labourer, C. P. W. D. workers and rickshaw pullers. Their position regarding working hours is summarised below:—
(1) The daily and weekly hours of work for municipal labour are 8 to 10 1/2 and 48 to 60 respectively. The daily spreadover is 10 to 11 1/2 hours. They are given a weekly holiday. In some places scavengers gel half day off per week. Employees of the Fire Brigade are on call for all the 24 hours.
(2) Central P. W. D. workers work 8 hours a day and 48 hours a week, with Sunday as the weekly holiday. Work chargedmen get all Sundays in a month as holidays (or some ether day in the week in lieu of Sunday), and in addition a certain number of common Governments holidays and communal holidays. Contract labour works for almost 11 hours in Karachi although the scheduled hours are 8 with a spreadover of 9 hours The A. R. P. Personnel in Bengal worked two shifts of 12 hours-each during the War.
(3) The hours of work of Rickshaw pullers are not regulated. They are liable to work all the 24 hours (e.g. in Simla) although only intermittently. In Madras the pullers are actually out for work for only 8 to 10 hours. In Calcutta there are two shifts—day shift and night shift.
(f) Hours of Work and Efficiency
There is a medley of conflicting opinions in regard to the effects of the statutory restriction of working hours on the efficiency of workers. Some employers say that reduction of working hours has adversely
affected production and any further reduction will have still worse effects. Others maintain that the effects of restriction of hours as enforced by the Factories Act have been to increase the efficiency of workers which has largely maintained production at its normal level. But they are not in favour of any further reduction. As for the desirability and probable effects of a further reduction of working hours, most of the
employers and Government and semi-Governmental organisations are of opinion that it will certainly reduce production. The Ahmedabad Textile Labour Association neatly summarises the conflicting view points in these words: "No definite statement can be made regarding the effect of a further reduction of hours of work on production In mills where workers have already attained a very high level of efficiency and there is no slackness of work at present, it would not be possible to maintain the present production, unless the machinery is speeded up with this definite purpose. This may not however be feasible as the tendency is generally to run the machines at a maximum speed. If suitable alterations are made in some processes leading to higher efficiency methods, it would be possible to maintain the production in spite of reduction in hours. Mills Which are at present below the average efficiency mark will have enough scope to make up for the loss, if they remove the causes which are responsible for their lower production". Curtailment in working hours can be profitably effected only up to the point beyond which returns begin to suffer and we are not sure if that point is yet reached in India. The employers point out that the loitering habits of workers still continue, but these may themselves be partly attributed to long hours, apart from absence of rest-pause and lack of discipline. There is thus an appreciable difference between the nominal hours and actual working hours, thereby showing that the hours of work have not been sufficiently reduced. Apparently if greater discipline is enforced, there is no reason why a further restriction of hours should not maintain the present level of production in a large number of industrial units. It may be noted in passing that a fair number of industries already work an eight-hour shift. But for the war, this number might have increased still further and we are consequently inclined to think that workers would gain and that industry would not suffer, if the working hours are reduced. We are glad to note in this connection that the Government of India have taken the initiative and introduced legislation reducing the hours of work to 48 per week in all concerns subject to the Factories Act. 11
This brings us to the question of rest-intervals and spreadover. The usual practice in India is an interval of one hour, or, in some cases, 1/2 hour. The wise adoption of the "one—break" day has thus been followed by the division of the working day into two work spells of approximately equal length separated by a rest or meal interval of 1 or 1/2 hour. Where* a double or multiple shift system is in force, the fixation of the rest interval is usually arbitrary and takes no accounts of the need of workers. We are not aware of any large-scale experiments made by employers with short rest-pauses (say of 10 to 15 minutes), apart from rest intervals. Their introduction has had. an unconscious. effect on production and efficiency in England. This was usually reflected in an increase of the total output, although this, it must be confessed, cannot always be expected. In purely automatic processes (which, by the way are riot numerous in this country, production depends on the machine and introductions of short rest-pauses may result in a corresponding decrease in production However, in processes where the worker plays a
more important role short rest-pauses are conducive to greater production. In both eases however, the workers gain in efficiency and health and we feel that industrialists in this country should, wherever practicable, make experiments in this direction.