National Commission on Labour (1967)||
14.28 The following table compares the movements in money and real earnings of workers in mines and of factory workers:
1 Evidence from Rajasthan showed that even with the low wages for mica workers, wage payments by employers were in arrears by two to four months, In some cases even for a longer period.
TABLE 14.9: Average Annual Money and Real Earnings per worker: Factories and Mines1
Index Numbers 1951 to 1964 (Base 1951=100)
|All- India Consumer Price Index Number||
Money Earnings Per Worker
Real Earnings Per Worker
|Year||Factories||Coal Mines||Non-Coal Mines||All Minerals||Factories||Coal Mines||Non-Coal Mines||All Minerals|
1 For limitations of such comparisons please see para 14.37 read with 14.3, 5 and 7.
Source Indian Labour Statistics, 1968.
14.29 The real earnings of factory workers improved only marginally during the period 1951 to 1964, while improvement in the case of coal mines and non-coal miners was of the order of 67 per cent and 21 per cent respectively. The main reason for this rise in the case of coal miners is that at the base period the wages in coal mines were low. During the period 1951—55, improvement in the real earnings of factory workers and of coal miners was about the same i.e., 23 per cent, while non-coal miners lagged behind by about 8 per cent. Thereafter, the real earnings of factory workers tended to move downwards converging with the level of non-coal miners at 114 in 1960, while the earnings of coal miners recorded a consistent upward trend, the index reaching a near peak at 182 during the same time-span, The real earnings of factory and coal workers have tended to fall during the period 1960—64, while that of non-coal miners improved in 1961 and remained at that level until 1963, thereafter falling in 1964 to come in line with that of factory and coal workers.
14.30 An examination of the total wage, according to its components, shows that contrary to the position obtaining in the earlier years, the basic wage of coal miners now forms a larger proportion of the total earnings, particularly since the implementation of the Wage Board award as from November, 1967.
TABLE 14.10 Component-wise Average Weekly Earnings of 'Below Ground' Miners and Loaders in Coal Mine. in Jharia and Raniganj. (In Rupees)
|Year||Basic Wages||D.A.||Other Cash
|Total||Basic Wages||D.A.||Other Cash Payments||Total|
Source: Indian Labour Journal, April 1969
14.31 Average monthly cash earnings for plantation workers are available for a continuous period of years in respect of the Assam Valley and Cachar Valley estates in Assam. Data available give a break-up for men, women, and children separately and cover the period 1938-39 to 1961-62. These are set out in Annexure VI together with the data for the years 1961 to 1964 relating to tea estates in West Bengal. Information in regard to average per capita annual earnings of plantation workers in other States available for recent years (1962-65) is in Annexure VI-A. Plantation workers earned a low wage in the days prior to Independence; the method of wage payment also differed. Concessions and facilities, supplementing wages, were available in many gardens. These included (a) land for cultivation, (b) free housing, (c) medical attendance, (d) maternity benefits, (e) fuel and grazing facilities, and (f) provision of foodstuffs and clothing at cheaper rates. Some of these concessions continue till today, partly under the Plantations Labour Act, 1951, and partly on voluntary basis.
14.32 Plantations were brought under the Minimum Wages Act, 1948, but plantation workers have improved their position since I dependence mainly because of the strength of workers' organisation. Settlements through collective bargaining have improved wage rat as much as decisions taken in the meetings the Industrial Committee on Plantations 1961. A consequence of one such decision was the setting up of the Central Wage Boards t Tea, Coffee and Rubber Plantations. T Wage Board for Coffee submitted its recommendations in 1965 and the Wage Boards for Tea and Rubber in 1966. The recommendations of the Wage Boards are to be in force for a period of five years. Annexure VI-B summarises the wage rates as prevailing sir 1-4-1966 in the light of the Wage Board commendations (Tea). The basic wage is to supplemented by a dearness allowance to determined according to the formulae recommended by the Board.1 The recommendations
1 The dearness allowance is to vary in North East India at 0.4 paise and in North India and South India at 0.75 p per day per point of increase (above 170 points) in the average All India Consumer Price Index Number subject to a maxi-mum increase of 16 points in North East and South India (or 6 paise in North East India) and 12 points in North India in any one calendar year. Any excess over this limit, in any year, upto the level of 200 points, is to be carried over to the following year. No dearness allowance revision beyond 200 points before 31st December, 1970. Dearness allowance to be rounded off at the end of each month.
of the Central Wage Board for Rubber were modified by the Government and certain adjustments were also made by the Plantations Labour Committee in Kerala. Payment of a separate dearness allowance linked to the Consumer Price Index was recommended by the Wage Board. The Coffee Wage Board fixed an escalatory wage structure with consolidated wages to compensate for the possible rise in cost of living. Wage rates as recommended by the Wage Boards are given in Annexures VI-C and VI-D.
14.33 The Railways, as an industry, are the largest single employer of labour. The Rau Court of Enquiry in 1940 examined the case for granting dearness allowance to Railway employees; increases to the extent of about 17 1/2 per cent of pay were given as a consequence. These increases brought the minimum earnings of Railway employees to about Rs. 40 per month. The Rege Committee observed that the basic wages of the subordinate staff in the Railways were low and that they had no chances of promotion either. With the rise in prices since the Rau Court of Enquiry reported, a further relief was granted to Railway employees in 1943, by way of supply of foodstuffs at concessional rates. The earnings of Class IV employees of Government Railways since Independence are given in Annexure VII along with their break-up according to various components. It reveals that dearness allowance in the year 1948-49 was about 28 per cent of total wages and increased to 45 per cent in the following year 1949-50. The share of dearness allowance, which included grainshop concessions, ranged between 45 and 48 per cent of total wages until 1954-55. During the year 1955-56, which also happened to be a good crop year, grain shop concessions were withdrawn from many places. The merger of dearness allowance with pay was also responsible for a decline in the relative share of dearness allowance in total wages. However, due to the rise in cost of living in recent years, the share of dearness allowance in total wages has gone up. In the year 1967-68, it amounted to about one-third of the total gross wages. The other allowances for overtime, house rent, city compensation, bad climate, remote locality, etc., have ranged between 4 to 8 per cent of total wages during the last twenty years. The component-wise earnings of railwaymen during the year 1967-68, the latest year for which data are available, are: pay and leave salary 59.6 per cent, dearness allowance 33.6 per cent, and other allowances 6.8 per cent. These are more or less similar to the component-wise earnings of an industrial worker in 1965, the year for which latest data are available.
14.34 The trends in money and real earnings of railway employees over the years are given in the following table:
TABLE 14.11. Movement of Money and Real Earnings of Class IV Employees of Government Railways, 1949-50 to 1967-68
|Year||Index of Money Earnings per Class IV Employee Base 1949-50=100||All India Consumer Price Index Base 1949=100||Index of Real Earnings per Employee Base 1949=100|
1 Index of Earnings are based on earnings data given in Annexure VII.
2 Consumer Price Index Numbers are for financial years.
The movement of real earnings since Independence in the case of Class IV Railway employees followed more or less the same pattern as that of factory workers.
Port and Dock Workers
14.35 There are two main categories of workers in the Docks: (i) Monthly Workers and (ii) Reserve Pool Workers. The monthly workers are regulars and enjoy security of employment; the reserve pool workers do not, but are registered in a pool and are employed by rotation. These latter are guaranteed minimum wages. The period of guaranteed minimum wages is 21 days in a month in Bombay, Calcutta, Madras and Cochin. The rates of wages are fixed by the Dock Labour Boards. Piece-rate schemes have been framed for the registered dock workers in the ports of Bombay, Madras, Cochin and Vishakhapatnam. Benefits of provident fund and gratuity are available in most ports. The level of earnings of certain selected categories of workers in different docks is given in the Annexure VIII.
14.36 During the last decade or so, the earnings of port and dock workers have been increasing in all the major ports. The rise is the result of many factors, the most important being greater work availability and increases in dearness allowance rates recommended by various pay fixing agencies. Cash benefits like holiday wages and paid weekly-off, which have been introduced from time to time, have also been responsible for the rise in total earnings. Among the port and dock workers, labour engaged by stevedores earn better; the nature of their work, working inside the holds of a ship, entitles them to higher wage rates. Also among the stevedore labour, there is a preponderance of piece-rate workers which explains their higher earnings.
14.37 Compatible data about the real earnings of workers in different sectors are not available, because earnings of factory workers are limited to the average earnings of those who are getting less than Rs. 200 p.m. (upto 1964), whereas in the case of miners the average earnings cover workers in all ranges. For plantation and dock workers, no comparable series is available. Subject to these limitations during the period since Independence, it would appear that the maximum gain in real terms was secured by coal miners. Plantation workers also gained though not to the same extent. The reasons for the gain are explained in paras 14.31 and 14.32. Workers in mines other than coal, factory workers and railway employees followed in that order. Period-wise, the gains of the factory workers were mainly upto 1955. Coal miners improved their position since 1956. Improvement in the case of plantation workers does not follow any pattern, whereas in the case of mines other than coal, important gains have been in the last ten years; so is the case with port and dock workers. Bank employees, among the 'white collar' workers, secured better scales in the latter part of the period covered by our inquiry.