Labour Investigation Committee (1946)||
The next important need of the worker is security of tenure and freedom from fear of victimization. This question has already been touched upon in an earlier Chapter. However, we would like to emphasise it here once more. Our surveys show that a majority of the workers, in organized and unorganized industries alike, barring a few exceptions such as cotton textiles, engineering, etc., are more or less on a temporary basis, with the result that they are in constant fear of losing their jobs. Even in the case of the so-called permanent workers, the rights of permanency are rarely defined, and even when, they are, the worker seldom enjoys security of employment, and he is liable to be discharged at short notice at the sweet-will of the employer or his subordinate officers. This militates equally against the workers' efficiency and his self-respect, No doubt, to a large extent, the system of recruitment and promotion, which leave a large scope for corruption and favoritism is at the bottom of the trouble. Therefore, one of the very first things to be done in our labour programme is to regularise the systems of recruitment and promotion, of discharge and dismissal, and of ventilation and redress of grievances. Here, we would draw pointed attention to the provisions of the Bombay Industrial Disputes Act, 1939, under which Standing Orders have to be framed by the Commissioner of Labour in consultation with the parties concerned, and in the event of disagreement to be finally settled by the Industrial Court. The proposed Central Government's Bill on the subject of Standing Orders is, we feel, a step in the right direction.
Apart from the legal protection which may be made available to the worker for ensuring security, the bulwork against unjustified dismissal or victimization is trade union organisation. Unfortunately, however, since the date of the publication of the Royal Commission's Report, there has been little advance in this respect. There are, no doubt, a few exceptions such as the Ahmedabad Textile Labour Association, All India Railway-men's Federation, etc. In this connection, we may invite attention to rather unique experiment which is being made in Madura, where the Workers' Union is not only recognized by the management, but actively fostered by it. Here the recruitment in the mills is made through the Union and the Union officials are consulted at every step, when the management wishes to make any changes in regard to work, wages or welfare of the operatives.
The Government of India have under consideration a Bill for the compulsory recognition of trade unions in this country. The Mysore Labour Act, 1942, under which any factory which has amongst its workers 100 or more members, of a Union has to recognize the Union and to deal with its office bearers, is, in some respects, a step forward, because it gives an opportunity to the representatives of the workers to be in a position to negotiate with the management as a matter of right. In actual practice, however it is a moot point how far such recognition would help in enabling labour to fight its battles effectively. It seems to us that unless labour itself is very strongly organized and produces capable leaders and until also the mentality of the bulk of the employers in this country undergoes a radical change, effective trade unionism in this country would be difficult of attainment.