Full text: Report on an enquiry into wages and hours of labour in the cotton mill industry, 1926

Deductions for spoilt material handed over to workers 
The Labour Office of the Government of Bombay at the instance of the Government 
>f India conducted in the year 1926 an extensive enquiry into * Deductions from Wages 
yr Payments in respect of Fines’ and published theresults in the formof a special Report 
in 1928. The Enquiry covered allthe various industrial establishments, including 
cotton textile mills in Bombay City, Ahmedabad and other centres of the Presidency. 
One of the questions on which information was called for was in respect of the nature 
and extent of deductions for spoilt or damaged material handed over to workers. It 
was found that this practice was very rare in factories and establishments outside the 
Textile Industry. The system of handing over to workers articles spoilt or damaged 
through their negligence and of making deductions from their wages on account of such 
articles was reported to be prevalent in 31 out of 76 cotton mills in Bombay City, 40 
out of 49 reporting mills in Ahmedabad and 13 out of 19 mills in the rest of the Presi- 
lency. In most cases, the deduction was made at the price at which the article would 
have been sold had it not been spoilt or damaged. This method of calculation of the 
deduction was reported to have been adopted in 22 mills in Bombay City, 33 in 
Ahmedabad and 8in other centres of the Presidency. The statistics for the total amount 
of deductions made during the first ten months of the year 1926 and the number 
of instances in which the deductions were effected were furnished by 24 mills in Bombay 
City, 18 in Ahmedabad and 4 in other centres of the Presidency. Deductions amounting 
to Rs. 80,959-15-7 in 17,5613 instances were reported by the 24 Bombay mills. In other 
words the average amount of deductions per month amounted to Rs. 8,096 and the 
incidence to Rs. 4-10-0 per instance. Similarly, the eighteen Ahmedabad mills employing 
an average of 4,986 weavers stated that the totalamount of deductions was Rs. 74,800-9-10 
and the number of instances 31,956. The average deduction per month was Rs. 7,480 
and the incidence worked out at Rs. 2-5-5 per instance. Seven mills which gave only 
the amounts of these deductions and not the numbers of instances in which they were 
made, reported that for a total number of 2,626 weavers employed the deductions for 
spoilt cloth amounted to Rg. 47,674-2-0 or an average of Rs. 4,767 per month. If the 
two sets of figures are totalled it is found that an amount of Rs. 1,22,475 was deducted 
in ten months in respect of 7,612 workers or at an average of Rs. 1-9-9 per head per 
month. In the case of the four mills in the other centres of the Presidency a sum of 
Rs. 4,565-11-11 was recovered in 1,512 instances. The rate of the deductions was at 
Rs. 3-0-3 per instance and Rs. 456-0-0 per month. No figures were available with 
regard to the incidence of the deductions per worker for the workers on whom it 
vas imposed. 
With regard to the effects of this practice, it is urged that the employees who are 
riven the spoilt material have no difficulty in selling it and that in cases where they 
are not able to sell it they use the cloth themselves. The evidence of the workers 
shemselves goes to show that, in many cases, they experience the greatest difficulty in 
disposing of the material that has been thrust upon them and this is especially the case 
ag regards the kinds of cloth for which there is no local demand. The weaver with 
limited resources is very often anxious to realise the value of the damaged cloth as soon 
ws possible and is therefore forced to sell it for whatever price he can get. In most cases 
bhe price fetched is considerably less than the actual *‘ cut * effected from the weaver’s 
wages. In many cases the worker is forced to retain cloth for which he cannot obtain 
2 satisfactory price, although he does not ordinarily require it for his own use. Some- 
times, however, the worker is able to dispose of the damaged material at a price equal 
to or more than the amount deducted from his wages and thereby he escapes punishment 
Referring to this question the Indian Tariff Board (Cotton Textile Industry Eng uiry) 
in paragraph 64 of their Report (1927) stated as follows :— 
“It is the practice in many mills to compel a weaver to take over cloth spoilt by 
defective workmanship the full value of such cloth being recovered from him and 
credited to the mill. The weaver has then to dispose of the cloth as best he can. 
This practice was justified by Managing Agents on the ground that disciplinary 
measures are necessary to maintain efficiency and quality. There are many mills 
which do not adopt the system but merely impose a fine for defective workmanship 
and ye are convinced that it is desirable in the interests of the mills themselves that 
it should be abolished as the advantage which the mills derive from it is entirely 
incommensurate with the soreness it causes.”

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