Labour Investigation Committee (1946)||
Having surveyed the field of welfare activities of the Central, Provincial and State Governments, Employers and Trade Unions, we may now consider certain important aspects of labour welfare in a more specific Manner. These may be considered under the following heads:
(i) Canteens; (ii) Creches; (iii) Entertainments; (iv) Medical Aid; (v) Washing and Bathing Facilities; (vi) Provident Fund, Gratuities and Pensions; (vii) Educational Facilities; and (vii) Other facilities.
The works canteen is being increasingly recognised all over the world as an essential part of an industrial establishment, providing undeniable benefits from the point of view of health, efficiency and well-being. To
F.N. *From the Memorandum of the A. T. L. Association. *The Indian Textile Journal May, 1944 p. 308.
introduce an element of nutritional balance into the otherwise deficient and unbalanced dietary of the workers, to provide cheap and clean food and an opportunity to relax in comfort near the place of work, to save time and trouble to workers, on account of exhausting journeys to and from work after long hours in the factory, and (during war time at any rate) to enable them to surmount the difficulties experienced in obtaining meals or foodstuffs—these ate some of the objects of an industrial canteen. In European and American countries canteens are—becoming immensely popular and are looked upon as so many laboratories carrying on experiments in nutrition and dietics and are making rapid progress as instruments of industrial welfare. In the United Kingdom, the Factories Act, l1937, requires the employer to provide mess-room accommodation, while under a recent order, "efficient and suitable canteens where hot meals can be purchased may be ordered by the Factories Inspector to be provided in ammunitions or other factory employed on Government work, and employing more than 250 workers; in building and engineering operations, in constructing munitions factories, aerodromes, defence work, etc., and in any docks".1 In India, it is a different story altogether. Firstly, in a majority of milk and factories, there are no canteens at all. Nor are they required under the Factories Act or any other law. The Factories Act (under Section 33) merely empowers Provincial Governments to make rules "requiring that in any specified factory, wherein more than 150 workers are ordinarily employed, an adequate shelter shall be provided for the use of workers during periods of rest," and to prescribe standards for such shelters. We have had opportunities of seeing some of these shelters and feel that barring a few exceptions they can hardly be regarded as places suitable for relaxation during rest intervals.
Canteens, tea-stalls, refreshment rooms, etc. are therefore, an ex-gratia affair and they can hardly conform to any standards or principles for the simple reason that no such standards or principles have been laid down anywhere. In most places, where they exist, they are little more than private contractors' tea-stalls, supplying tea and sweets. Where foodstuffs are supplied, they are neither cheap nor good in quality, while the Bombay Textile Labour Enquiry Committee (Report, p. 303) high maximum of profit" is the only principle of the contractor, who is there by virtue of being the highest bidder for the contract. As pointed out by the Bombay Textile Labour Enquiry Committee (Report, p. 303) high rents are charged to these contractors by factory owners for the use of premises. All this results in high prices being charged to workers or bad food being provided at low prices. No wonder then that workers prefer to bring their own snack with them for mid-day consumption. We think the following comments made by Dr. Arkroyd in respect of a typical canteen in a Bombay mill (which provided tea and snacks ) hold good of most such places:—
"In my opinion, a canteen organised on the above lines, while it is a praiseworthy effort on the part of the management and appreciated by the workers, does not do much to improve the diet of the average worker. In general the snacks which are for sale do not supply in abundance the elements in which the worker's diet tends to be deficient. The mid-day meal, while it is wholesome and liberal in quantity, is too expensive
F.N. Canteen in Industry, published by the Industrial Welfare Society of the U.K.
in relation to the current level of wages and commitments, to be taken advantage of by the poorer workers who are likely to-be in most need of a good meal.
"I would not regard the extension of canteens run on the above lines as being likely to prove effective in raising the standard of nutrition of the workers. In order to produce this effect canteens roust sell at very low cost food of high nutritive value and in particular foods which supply the elements vitamins, etc. which the worker most requires.
"With regard to the particular 'snacks' mentioned above, a piece of white bread or a portion of sweetmeats supply calories, but they are not rich in certain of the more important constituents of food. A cup of tea or coffee is essentially water plus a little stimulant. On the other hand, whole meal bread, cheap fruit, butter-milk, and many other foods, which could be mentioned are of higher nutritive value. Canteens could be organised so that foods which are specially good from the standpoint of nutrition are offered for sale, and the workers encouraged to buy them.
"In respect of mid-day meals the most satisfactory procedure would be to sell a very cheap meal, which is fairly rich in essential food factors. Unless the price is equal to, or below, the usual price of a meal consumed in the workers' own homes, there will be little incentive for them to spend money on meals in the canteen. Hence the meal provided should be based on cheap foods of relatively high nutritive value, such as whole cereals, pulses, certain classes of vegetables, etc. Some knowledge of nutrition is necessary in devising satisfactory feeding at minimum cost and due regard must of course be paid to the dietary habits of the workers.
"A comprehensive scheme for the development of canteens on sound lines in Bombay, under the guidance of nutrition workers, is worth careful consideration. A trained worker, in consultation with the various managements and after full consideration of local conditions and requirements, could draw up a suitable scheme at the outset, and superintend its working and development in practice. In certain countries (e.g., U. S. A.), canteens have been organised and run by expert 'dieticians'; this development has been characteristic of factories, etc., conducted on the best modern lines. It would be fitting for Bombay to give a lead to the rest of India in this matter.
"The development of canteens along the above lines would probably result in the genuine improvement of the nutrition and health of the workers."
That the workers are not at all averse to making use of good canteens is proved by the experience of certain employers who run them not for profit-making but for provision of wholesome food at reasonable prices. The canteen at the Tata Iron and Steel Co's. works at Jamshedpur is an example. "The canteen is housed in two fine buildings well-fitted with marble-top tables, electric lights and fans; these are visited thrice every day by 13,000 workers for tea, refreshments and meals; meals varying
F.N. In Appendix IX to Report of the Bombay T. L. F. Committee.
with communal tastes are served to different communities; separate dining arrangements have been made for women workers. Until recently prices of cooked food served at the canteen were 75 percent below the market price. At present in spite of the rise in prices of commodities, charges here are still 30 to 50 per cent. lower than the bazaar prices. Particular care has been taken to keep down the price of a simple meal consisting of rice, dal curry and chapattis; generally the price is five piece only. The canteen is run entirely on a non-profit basis. Buildings and capital expenditure are provided by the Company at a fair economic rent".1 The Delhi Cloth Mills Trust runs a canteen for workers in which tea, milk, lemon squash and other light refreshment are sold at moderate prices. The Sigcol's canteen at Calcutta has been immensely popular, the reason being that good and healthy food is provided during the lunch interval in a clean place and free of cost. Likewise, the canteen of Lever Brothers (India) in Bombay has been popular and appropriate to the needs of the worker. The Tea Marketing Expansion Board has been encouraging and giving all possible help and expert assistance to the starting and running of canteens in industrial concerns. Perhaps a greater use of these facilities could be made by employers.
Since the outbreak of the war, the Government of India instructed all Provincial Governments to encourage and persuade employers to start regular canteens serving tiffin as well as hot meals. The results actually obtained have not, however, been up to the mark. In this connection, the Chief Inspector of Factories, Bihar observes in his memorandum to the Committee: "The employers in general do not favour the idea and are not prepared to open cooked-food canteens voluntarily. No success can be achieved unless legal responsibility is placed on the employers." We fully endorse this view and hope that Government will take early steps to impose such a legal responsibility on employers to open canteens on a non-profit basis, subject to supervision by Inspectors, as in other countries. Apart from advising" the Provincial Governments to encourage the canteen movement, the Government of India have also sanctioned rent-free accommodation and free furniture and cooking utensils in canteens run by them, or by workers, or jointly by both, and under certain conditions even in canteens run by contractors in their concerns. Supply of rationed food-stuffs to canteens has also now been sanctioned.2
The progress of the canteen movement, however, has been extremely slow. Thus, so far there are only 37 canteens (of various descriptions and grades) in the United Provinces; 130 in Bombay; 70 in Madras; and 133 in Bengal. The usual objections raised by employers against starting canteens are that the dietetic habits of the workers vary widely, that workers of different communities are not prepared to mess together, that there is no "canteen habit," that workers generally prefer to get their meals from home as foodstuffs are not available, etc. But every one of these objections has been proved to be untenable wherever a canteen has been run on sound lines after proper planning. On the while, it appears to us that progress in regard to canteens is bound to be slow and difficult unless they are made obligatory at least in the case of the larger factories, and what applies to factories also applies mutatis mutandis to other industrial establishments, such as mines, transport services, etc.
F.N. Indian Textile Journal August 1943, p. 346. * Summary of Proceedings of the Sixth Labour Conference, p. 29.
The legal position in regard to provision of creches is that the Government of India has under the Factories Act (Section 33) empowered the Provincial Governments to make rules "requiring the reservation of a suitable room for the use of children under the age of six years belonging to women workers in factories employing 50 or more such women workers, and describing the standards for such rooms and the nature of supervision to be exercised for the children". Most of the Provinces, including, Bombay, C. P. and Berar, U. P., Bengal and Madras, have availed themselves of this rule-making power. On the whole, however, the employers have been rather slow in observing the requirements in regard to provision of creches even in Provinces where the law requires it. Things were bad enough in former years when there was no provision of creches, as women used to keep their children with them while working near the machines or, worse still, drug them with opium and leave them at home. Mills which are not legally obliged to establish creches do not have them at all. Even those employing more than 100 women workers in a large number of cases evade the provision of the law and put forward some lame excuse or other in justification, such as e.g. that the women in the factory are unmarried and so require no creches; or that only women who have passed the child-bearing age are employed; or that they are widows, etc. Even where the rules are observed, the tendency is to conform only to the letter of the taw and to break the spirit of it. Thus, some dark room in a comer away from the work-place may be set apart with no playthings to attract the children and nobody to look after them. The Royal Commission (Report, p. 65) stated that though creches were not uncommon in factories employing women, and some of these they saw were admirably staffed and equipped, "others, if, better than nothing, still left much to be desired; yet others were both dirty and inadequately furnished". This state of affairs still continues in a large measure. Generally speaking, the creche is one of the neglected corners of the factory and if an ayah or nurse is in attendance, she seldom pays sufficient attention to the requirements of the children left there. The emoluments of nurses in charge are usually low. Supervision even in good creches leaves much to be desired. For example, at one place we were told that women workers hoped their babies in creches with the connivance of the nurse in charge. The atmosphere is seldom very clean, and standards of sanitation seldom very high. If cradles are provided, there are not enough of them, with the result that children are allowed to lie on the floor, generally in dirty clothes and crying for want of attendance. On occasions of visits of officers or Committees, there is a considerable amount of window-dressing and even then conditions do not appear to be very satisfactory. Of course there are some enlightened employers who have established creches which are well-equipped and adequately staffed. For example, child welfare and maternity wards are attached to the hospital provided by the Tatas. The Gokak Mills in the Bombay Province and the Buckingham and Carnatic Mills at Madras have made excellent arrangements for creches and also children maternity welfare. Parry and Co., a their Nellikuppam Sugar Factory have established a child welfare centre with a trained nurse, Ayahs and health visitors. Women in the locality are given pre-natal and post-natal treatment and on three days in a week workers' children are given bath, clean dress and milk, all free of cost. The weights of the children are recorded and steps are taken to improve their health. Likewise the Begg Sutherland Group of Mills provides creches under the supervision of trained midwives. The creches are equipped with hanging cradles
and cots, mattresses, sheets, blankets and all other necessary equipment.. The children are kept clean, being washed and clothed in fresh garments everyday Toys, biscuits and nourishing food are also provided by the management. In the Madura Mills, creche is being maintained in a spacious building, with a kitchen attached to it, from which children are supplied free meals, milk, fruit etc. These are merely illustrations of the facilities provided by enlightened employers, but, generally speaking the attitude of employers is not very favourable to the provision of creches. We feel that unless the law regarding creches is made more universal than at present and also more rigorously enforced, the position is not likely to improve. In this connection, mention may be made of the fact that the Governments of Bombay and Madras have appointed a Lady Inspector of Factories to visit creches and bring them up to a minimum standard of cleanliness and comfort. We also feel that, apart from factories, other industrial establishments, particularly mines and unregulated factories, should be brought under the scope of such law. At present, the position in mines and unregulated factories appears to be most deplorable.
The value and importance of entertainments as a means to relieve the monotony and drudgery of working long hours in the factory or mine and to introduce an element of joy and relief as well as to impart instruction and education to the ignorant workers cannot be overestimated. The average industrial worker works in an atmosphere of dust, noise and heat, and lives in terrible overcrowded and insanitary dwellings which are generally no better than dark dungeons, with the consequence that many workers fall prey to vice. No measures to raise the standard of life of workers can succeed unless and until they are weaned away from vice and diversions are provided which can occupy their spare time in a healthy atmosphere. The provision of entertainment such as cinema shows, radio sets, games, etc., must effectively fulfill this object and go a long way in reducing the evils of drink and gambling, and particularly prostitution, which prevails in the labour areas owing to the glaring numerical disparity of sexes. Little attention has. been given to this matter either by the State or by employers, though there have been a few honourable exceptions, such as those mentioned already under the heading, "Employers' Activities", Apart from these laudable efforts on the part of some employers, as stated earlier, the Labour Welfare centres organised by the Governments of Bombay and U. P. provide radio and gramophone entertainment, games and sports, occasional musical parties and culture show and also cinema shows, usually twice a month. Wherever entertainments have been provided, they have become immensely popular with large numbers of workers and their families. In some cases, no doubt, dissatisfaction has been voiced by employers that the clubs provided have not been made use of by workers; but a careful study will reveal that this has mostly been the case where modern games like tennis, ping-pong, billiards and such others only are provided; also where the club is common to both officers and workers. On the whole, we are inclined to think that entertainments can only be regarded as voluntary activity on the part of the employers and no legal effect can be given to it. It. is for the employers to realise that ordinary entertainments, such as sports, excursions, etc., cost really little, while the psychological and moral gain both to themselves and to the workers is immense, and the effect of this on efficiency must be far
greater than the small cost involved in providing entertainments. Apart from this, the contribution made to industrial peace by music, dramatic entertainments, bhajans, mushairas, and such other things must be incalculable.
With regard to the provision of medical facilities, the most important question of principle involved is the extent to which employers can be made responsible for financing medical facilities. It is no doubt true that employers have a duty towards the workers in mitigating their physical suffering- in so far as this is directly due to industrial employment. On the other hand, society as a whole must share the responsibility for industrial employment with all its attendant evils and to that extent must be regarded as liable to bear a part of the cost of medical facilities specially meant for hazardous or physically uncomfortable employment. In India the provision of hospitals and dispensaries has been undertaken mainly by the State, including municipalities and local boards, but a large number of industrial concerns have their own medical institutions. Such medical institutions provided by employers, however, must be regarded as ex-gratia although one can readily agree with the view expressed by the Royal Commission (Report, p. 258), that "those employers who have taken a more humanitarian view have found that their action has had valuable effects on the efficiency of their establishments" and that "many of the medical organisations in industrial compounds are worthy of great praise and are clearly responsible for a considerable increase in the health and happiness of the workers and their families". Generally speaking, however, the medical organisation of the country as a whole is extremely inadequate and correspondingly the special medical facilities provided by employers are also insufficient from both the quantitative and qualitative standards. It is to be hoped that as a result of the recommendations of the Health Survey and Development Committee, the medical organisation- for the entire population including industrial workers will be made more comprehensive and also more adequate than it is at present. However, it may as well be recognised that the specially hazardous nature of industrial employment requires that the State should give somewhat preferential treatment to industrial and urban areas where health conditions are less satisfactory than in rural areas owing to congestion and insanitary environments. At the same time, as admitted, earlier, it is the responsibility of the employer partly, and perhaps even of the worker, to help in the provision of medical facilities. Accordingly, we are inclined to the view that provision of medical facilities though primarily the responsibility of the State should also be supported by employers and workers themselves. The Unified Scheme of Social Insurance, providing for factory workers medical care in respect of the three contingencies of sickness, employment, injury and childbirth, which is envisaged by the Labour Department of the Government of India is a step in the right direction.
At the same time, we feel that there is a residue of medical amenities which can be rightly regarded as the sole responsibility of the employer, In particular, the provision of First Aid in the event of sudden sickness or an accident is undoubtedly the responsibility of the employer. Likewise, provision of ambulance, maintenance of standards of industrial hygiene etc., may also be regarded as primarily matters to be dealt with by employers. In western countries, the Factory Doctor has become an indispensable feature of large-scale enterprise. The factory Doctor is
rightly regarded as the connecting link between the factory and the public hospital. Unfortunately in India the law imposes upon the employer only the provision of first-aid facilities. Under the Factories Act (Section 32), Provincial Governments are empowered to make rules "requiring the managers of factories to maintain stores of first-aid appliances and provide for their proper custody" But practical investigation conducted by the Committee, which is also corroborated by the experience of the Factory Inspection staff, reveals that in a number of cases the contents of these first-aid boxes are not renewed even after they are used up. Secondly, there is no certainty that the first-aid boxes are ever used at all by the employers in the event of accident or sudden sickness. In most places, there is no one trained in first-aid, with the result that when an accident occurs, no relief can be administered on the spot, and the worker is just removed to some public dispensary or hospital nearby. We may, however, mention that a very large proportion of employees in the Madras Port Trust have received such training. The absence of any obligation of the employers to maintain a person trained in first-aid has thus practically nullified this provision of the law. In view of this, we strongly feel that the precise legal responsibilities of the employer in regard to provision of medical facilities within or near the factory should be clearly demarcated and prescribed under the law, the rest being left to be dealt with by either hospitals and dispensaries set up for the general public or for industrial workers under a scheme of social insurance.
It may be useful here to give a rough picture of the type of medical facilities actually provided by employers. These are, of course, of various types and grades ranging from mere first-aid to hospitals of first-class type. Thus, many employers have dispensaries, but there are not enough drugs and appliances, nor a qualified full-time medical man to administer them. Some factories employ a part-time doctor who visits the factory premises once or twice a fortnight, or more often, just for an hour or so, and the workers are required to consult him while he is available. Sometimes factories arrange to send their workers to private practitioners under an agreement. Sometimes the doctors employed for looking after workers are more busy attending upon the employers and officials, as well as their families, than upon the workers. However, at the other end, we have some cases of really first-rate medical facilities. Thus, for example, the Tata Iron and Steel Co. maintain a large well-equipped hospital with 168 beds, 29 medical officers, 38 nurses, and other staff; and also 6 out-door dispensaries. Treatment is free to employees of the Company but nominal fees are charged to non-employees; The Delhi Cloth Mills maintain a hospital which is fully equipped with X-ray apparatus and other modern appliances, and which gives free medical aid to both mill workers and their families and free food to indoor patients. The hospital at the Kolar Gold Field is a model of its kind, but while hospital treatment is free to European and Anglo-Indian staff and their families, in the case of Indian workers, families are excluded, moreover, the wards for the latter are separate from those for the former and also the equipment considerably inferior. The Buckingham and Carnatic Mills of Madras and the three important groups of employers of Cawnpore (viz; Begg Sutherland, British India Corporation, and J. K. Industries), the Assam Oil Co., at Digboi and many other employers have also provided adequate medical facilities which for want of space cannot be described here. In all Class I railways in British India there are medical departments under the control of chief medical and health officers with divisional medical officers assisted by a number of assistants. At most of the branches
all facilities are provided free of charge for indoor and outdoor patients including the dependants of the employees. A diet charge is realised if the income of the indoor patient is above a certain specified minimum. However, complaints from the workers showed that there was hardly any provision for T. B, patients and that the number of lady doctors was very inadequate. In the Assam tea gardens, medical aid is provided by a network of dispensaries run by assistant medical officers. Hospital accommodation, however, is exceedingly inadequate and uninviting. Indoor patients are fed free of cost but out-patients are given only half hazira and that too by a few gardens if there is nobody to support them. Arrangements for medical aid in South Indian tea gardens vary from the provision of a few common drugs dispensed by clerks to hospitalisation and specialist attention. An attractive feature of the medical facilities provided in these plantations is the system of Central or Group hospitals catering for groups of estates. The Kannan Devan Hills Produce Company has an efficient system of medical aid. The Company runs a general hospital with well-equipped X-ray, opthalmic and dental departments. The C.P. Manganese Ore Co. Ltd., maintains dispensaries at most of its mines. Maternity treatment including post-natal treatment is also provided at some of the bigger mines. As mentioned elsewhere, the Assam tea planters have done a valuable service to the planting population by adopting anti-malarial measures with a great degree of success.
The position in regard to the provision of maternity and child welfare centres is much less satisfactory than that of ordinary medical facilities. The Royal Commission recommended that women should be appointed to public health staffs, particularly in the more industrialised provinces, and that every hospital of any size should have a woman doctor on its staff who should be in charge of all work connected with the health and welfare of women and children. Very few Provincial Governments and employers have implemented this recommendation. The Madras Government have appointed a lady as an Assistant Director of Health. The Tata Iron and Steel Co., Parry and Co. of Madras (at their Nellikuppam Sugar Factory), the Empress Mills of Nagpur and some others nave organised systems' of maternity and child welfare. Only in some cases, Lady Doctors who are employed to supervise and guide this work, nurses and dais attend to pre-natal and post-natal cases, at the dispensary as well as at the homes of workers; children are treated and in some cases they are given a bath, and milk free of cost. In some cases, their weight are regularly recorded and proper steps taken to remedy deficiencies. In the coal mines, the Jharia and Asansol Mines Boards of Health have in recent years done very valuable work in the field of maternity and child welfare, by providing welfare centres for this work in selected areas in the Bihar and Bengal coalfields.
The Factories Act requires that "in every factory in which any process involving contact by the workers with any injurious or obnoxious-substances is carried on, a sufficient supply of Water suitable for washing shall be provided for the use of workers, at suitable places and with facilities for its use". Almost all the factories provide water for washing but not soap, soda and towels which are also necessary. In many cases the number of taps and basins is inadequate. Only in a few cases are the facilities for washing completely satisfactory. As for bathing facilities, very few employers provide these inside factory premises. "The workers
who live in crowded areas have inadequate facilities for washing at their homes and bathing facilities would add to their comfort, health and efficiency."1 Even in mines where bathing facilities are absolutely necessary, pithed baths are provided by very few mine-owners. "Construction of pithed baths by the Tata Iron and Steel Co., at their Dig-wadhi Colliery is pioneer work in the Jharia coalfields. At these baths 52 workers can have shower bath at one time. There are separate sections for men and women."
The whole problem of provision against old age or death of bread winners legitimately falls within the sphere of Social Security and it is a matter for consideration whether either the initiation or management of schemes of Provident Fund, Gratuities and Pensions should be left to employers themselves. Of course, so long as there are no schemes of social security introduced in a particular industry or area, the existing private schemes of provident fund, etc., should be allowed to continue under the management of employers. The existing schemes in this connection do not appear to be very liberal, and especially in regard to the employers' contribution to provident funds of workers; the restrictions on withdrawal of employers' contribution seem to be somewhat unsatisfactory. If provision against old age or death of bread-winner is intended to stabilise the industrial worker in employment, the employers' contribution, which is really in consideration for permanent service by the worker, should as far as possible be made available to him on early retirement, etc. The absence of social security measures like provident funds, gratuities and pensions in most concerns has largely contributed to the migratory character of Indian labour, and is one of the most important causes of the large labour turnover in factories. Though some of the larger employers have instituted tolerably good schemes, the number of such employers is very small. During the last few years, however, some progress has been achieved in this direction. Generally speaking, provident funds are most common, gratuities are given only in some cases and pensions are rather rare. Only some of the Provident Funds are registered, while most are not. As regards eligibility, there are very wide variations: in some cases, the clerical and office staff only are covered; in others only permanent workers (and the definition of permanency itself varies from concern to concern), and in others still, all employees except casual labour are covered. Some employers impose income qualifications and here also there are numerous variations. Broadly speaking, the range of income limits lies between Rs. 30 and Rs. 150 or so per month. The amount of total contribution also varies widely, generally ranging between 5 per cent. and 12 1/2 per cent. with equal monthly contributions from the employer and the worker. In almost all cases, however, the worker must have served for at least 15 years (or more in some cases) and to the entire satisfaction of the employer, before he is eligible to receive the employer's contribution to the Provident Fund; and it must be remembered that it is the employer himself who decides whether the worker has been of good behaviour or not. The funds are generally deposited in Government securities. In the case of unregistered funds, the amount outstanding to the worker's credit is attachable, but not so in the case of registered funds. We are of the opinion that all Provident Funds, wherever they exist, should be compulsorily registered and treated as trusts.
F.N. Report of Royal Commission on Labour, p. 65 * Indian Labour Gazette, October 194, p. 105.
29—2 Lab. 56.
A few employers have instituted Gratuity and Pension Schemes. The amount of gratuity generally amounts to half a month's wages for every complete year of service put in. In almost all the cases gratuity is payable only to deserving workers of proved good behaviour,—the sole judge of the deservedness being the employer himself. Hence there is always scope for discrimination, and the trade unions bitterly complain that their members are discriminated against. The rate of the gratuity is progressively reduced if the period of service is less than 20 years. Pension schemes are operated by a very few concerns. The grant of pensions is entirely at the discretion of the employer and the amount is generally small.
Like the problem of medical facilities, that of educational facilities also raises a question of principle, viz; to what extent can the employer be held legally or morally responsible for the education of his workers, and if he is to be held so responsible, for what types of education? Broadly speaking, it is a proposition which will be readily acceptable that education as a whole, should be a responsibility of the State. In this context. the Royal Commission (Report, p. 27) observe as follows: "In India nearly the whole of industrial labour is illiterate, a state of affairs which is unknown in any other country of industrial importance. It is impossible to overestimate the consequence of this disability which are obvious in wages, in health, in productivity, in organisation and in several other directions". They, therefore, recommend (Report, p. 494) that "education of the industrial worker should receive special attention and that employers should try to develop the education of their workers' children in their factory schools and that local bodies and employers should co-operate in creating special facilities for the education of workers' children". We are not sure, however, that provision of educational facilities could be imposed upon employers as a matter of policy. As in the case of medical facilities, if any employers actually do provide such facilities, they must be considered as merely gratis. From this point of view, it is interesting to know that the educational scheme of the Central Advisory Board of Education (popularly known as the Sergent Scheme) envisages the financing of a system of national education by the Central and Provincial Governments, partly supported by religious trusts and partly one or two other sources.
It is one thing, however, to say that employers must finance the education of their workers or workers' children, and quite another to say that if they interested themselves in certain types of educational activities with reference to their workers or their children, they would find such activities ultimately proving beneficial to themselves. For instance, adult education or education through the medium of radio, or cinematograph, or lectures on matters of interest to labour, and also specialised instruction in processes of production to skilled workers under agreements can be of great use to employers themselves, in so far as such education improves the mental efficiency and skill of the workers.
Several enlightened employers have provided good educational facilities, from motives partly of self-interest and partly of charity. For example, the Tata Iron and Steel Co. have established a net work of schools,
F.N. In particular, see the Report of the Central Advisory Board of Education on Post-war-Development of Education in India, p. 72.
including two high schools, 8 middle schools, 19 primary schools and 10 night schools. The Buckingham and Carnatic Mills run primary schools, a nursery school and adult education classes. Most of the railways provide adequate educational facilities and run a number of schools for their workers' children. In plantations, likewise, primary schools are run by many enlightened employers at their own cost. The Assam Oil Co., at Digboi, have also provided excellent facilities for education of workers and their children. The C. P. Managnese Ore Co., Ltd., have established a network of schools with the help of contractors at their mines, where education is given free.
Facilities for adult education are almost nil. Most of the employers have not done anything and some who tried had to give it up in despair as the workers did not take any interest. But some trade unions have been doing valuable work in this regard. For Instance, the Ahmedabad Textile Labour Association and some other trade unions conduct night classes for adults and the attendance of the workers has been quite satisfactory. The Delhi Cloth and General Mills have devised a novel system for encouraging adult education. Since January, 1944 all new illiterate workers are required to join the adult classes under the terms of their contract of employment. Under the rules of the company, no illiterate worker below 40 years is entitled to become permanent until he has passed the literacy test. As a result of this adult education campaign, the percentage of literacy among workers by July 1943 had risen to 70.1 Some of the Government Labour Welfare Centres in Bombay, U. P., and Bengal also conduct night classes for adults.
As regards provision of facilities for industrial and vocational training little has been done by employers. The Government Labour Welfare Centres conduct classes in sewing, knitting, embroidery work, etc. for working-class women and girls. The Labour Welfare Department of the Government of Bombay runs an industrial training workshop at Ahmedabad where workers are given vocational training which would help them in periods of unemployment. Training in tailoring, carpentry, smithery, moulding, fitting, turning and such other trades is given in the workshop. The Government of U. P. runs a textile institute and a Leather Working school at Cawnpore. Both these impart instructions to workers and mistries. Some other Provincial Governments, like Madras, also run a few trade schools where apprentices are trained. The Railways have their own vocational schools where workshop assistants, permanent way, control, signal and yard apprentices are trained. The Tata Iron and Steel Co. run a technical institute for higher technical education for skilled workers. There are a number of other public and private institutions providing training facilities in different parts of the country.
Other facilities include cost-price grain-shops run by the managements or on a co-operative basis. During war time, the workers were faced with a menacing scarcity of foodstuffs and high prices of all necessaries of life. The Government, realising that in the interests of war production, the morale and the efficiency of workers as a a whole had to be kept up, encouraged employers to start grainshops storing all the necessaries of life required by workers and selling these at cost or concession
*F.N. Work and Welfare in Delhi Cloth and General Mills, p. 12.
prices. Special provisions were made to facilitate purchase and transport of grains, etc., by industrial concerns and employers; and many employers took advantage of this concession and established grainshops. In many cases they advanced large sums of money required for bulk purchase of foodstuffs. Some employers met all the establishment and overhead charges. The articles generally supplied have been the rationed articles, and some other things like dal, vegetable ghee, oil, soap, etc. Mention may also be made here of miscellaneous facilities provided by the important railways, including free passes and monetary help to widows and children of deceased employees.