Labour Investigation Committee (1946)||
Since the publication of the Report of the Royal Commission, standardisation of wages in the important industries of the country has made little or no progress, the only two exceptions being the cotton mill industry in Ahmedabad and Indore (although in the latter centre standardisation has not necessarily meant uniformity of wage rates in different units) and the gold mining industry at Kolar. Some of the obstacles in the way of standardising wage rates in the different industries has been the absence of standardisation of occupational nomenclature and the lack of organisation on the part of labour, but the chief obstacles is either an imperfect appreciation on the part of employers of the need for standardisation or the anxiety of the industries concerned not to unsettle labour by bringing about changes in the wage structure. In Bombay, several
schemes have been framed from time to time for the standardisation of wages, the latest being the one published in the Report of the Bombay Textile Labour Enquiry Committee. In the jute industry, in spite of the very strong comments of the Royal Commission, wages have not so far been standardised. There are considerable variations in the wages paid between unit and unit in the same centre and very often two neighbouring mills pay different rates of wages for the same kind of work. It is, however, understood that the Indian Jute Mills Association is now making an earnest attempt to standardise wages. Variations in wage rates for the same or a similar job between unit and unit is always a fruitful source of grievance. In the Railways, the majority of which are now State managed, we still find differential rates being paid in the same geographical area for the same occupation, the main reasons being that when the railways were under contrary managements, they had adopted such rates. In plantations, there is a fair degree of uniformity in the rates of wages paid in the same circle or locality. This is achieved, as stated earlier, by agreement among planters of a tea district or circle. In semi-Government bodies, like municipalities and port trust, differential rates of wages are often paid for the same or similar occupations in the different departments. Among certain unorganised industries, such as the bidi industry, there is a fair degree of uniformity in the same locality in the piece rates for different kinds of bidis. This also applies to shellac and mica splitting. So far as factory industries, such as matches, silk, wool, etc., are concerned, there is neither standardisation of wages nor of occupations, and the widest disparities are found to exist in the wages obtaining in different units in the same centre. In mining special mention may be of the Kolar Gold Field, where all the companies have standardised both wage rates and occupations. There was no such standardisation in other mining industries surveyed by us.
Although standardisation of wage rates has made little or no progress during the last fifteen years, there are now in vogue in important centres of industries uniform scales for the payment of dearness allowances. We have noticed already that the scale of the allowances is much higher than the basic wage in the case of certain occupations, and this has, to some extent, helped to iron out wage differentials. This can, however, be only a passing phase in that dearness allowance is purely of a temporary character. The need for the standardisation of wage rates thus continues to be as great as ever in order, firstly, that labour may have no inducement to migrate from unit to unit, and, secondly, that the good employer may not suffer from unfair competition at the hands of another who believes in cutting down wages to the lowest marginal level.