Labour Investigation Committee (1946)||
Unlike other mines, the system of wage payment in the rock salt mines at Khewra is somewhat peculiar. In this mine, each registered miner is allowed to fill a certain number of tubs of clean salt during a shift, that number being at present 12. The duration of the shift varies from month to month, but is usually one of 20 days. There are 10 to11 shifts in a year. On an average, a miner is able to fill up his tubs in about 15 days. For purposes of filling the tubs be has to take the help of an assistant for the carriage of salt from the place of excavation to that of
loading, for filling of tubs, and sometimes even for the excavation of salt, The assistant is not paid by the Mines but by the miner himself. Moreover, the miner is not provided by the employer with any tools, oil for his lamp or gun powder for blasting, waste paper, etc. required in connection with his work and has to pay for these himself. In addition to the payments, which the miner receives for the salt tubs which he fills, he is also paid for the excavation of marl and for forward excavation known as 'handkathi'. In recent years certain changes have occurred in the salt mines at Khewra in the method of wage payment. These are briefly as follows: (i) While formerly there was no individual weighment of the miners tubs, each tub is now weighed and credit is given to the miners for the additional salt loaded up to 25 per cent. in excess of the capacity of the tub (40 maunds). The miners are also compensated to the extent of one percent of their production on account of wastage. (2) All marl which is excavated is now paid for instead of only marl in excess of 4 per cent. of the seam as was the practice before. Till the year 1941, the miners were being paid at the rate of Rs. 3-6-0 per tub. Thereafter, they were given a dearness allowance at the rate of 10 per cent. of their earnings. This was subsequently raised to 20 and 25 per cent. Since 1st January 1945, however, the tub rates itself has been increased by 80 percent. the rate at present being Rs. 6-1-2 per tub. This increase has been granted as a compensation for the increase in the cost of living. No dearness allowance is, therefore, paid separately. It is difficult to estimate the net earnings of the miners in view of the fact that they have to pay the assistants and also to incur expenditure incidental to the mining operations. Enquiries recently made show that owing to the increase in the prices of materials require by the miners, the mining expenses per tub are as much as Rs. 1-9-0. The payment of wages is not always made direct to the miners and there are complaints of short payments by the middlemen who in this case are gangmen. The wages are also not paid immediately after the close of the shift. Although fining is not heavy in individual cases the amount of the fine levied is very high.