Settlement of Labour Disputes
Conciliation Commissioners To Be Appointed
MADRAS, Sept. 22.-Dr. Ambedkar met the Southern India Chamber of Commerce this evening and discussed with them questions relating to Labour Leglslation, Sickness Insurance, Overseas Indian Labour, and Technical Training Scheme.
Dr. Ambedkar said that Government had deferred the proposed comprehensive Labour Legislation not because of lack of sympathy with it on their part but due to certain administrative difficulties. He said that a large part of Labour legislation fell ordinarily within the jurisdiction of provinces and the authority of the Government of India was found in Concurrent List. Though the Government of India was given rights to pass legislation, the administration of labour was entirely in the hands of the Provincial Governments. The Central Government had no power of co-ordination but possessed only the power of supervision. Consequently, the legislative speed was not probably so fast as could ordinarily be expected.
Dealing with the question of wage reduction, the Labour Member said that the Government could not consent to the cutting of wages of employees so that the employers might make more profit. He felt that a National Government ought not only to fix the flooring for wages but fix the ceiling for profits.
As regards sickness insurance, Dr. Ambedkar Said that the Government Of India had an open mind on the subject and one of the objections was that the local bodies and Provincial Governments were already bearing the cost of hospitals and dispensaries and that they should not, be called upon to make contribution to a special measure intended for the benefit of a special class. He said that a very large army of social welfare officers had been employed by the Government of India and they proposed to appoint three senior officers called Commissioners of Conciliation. The British Indian territory would be divided into three areas and the function of the Conciliation Commissioner would be to intervene and settle labour disputes. Their serv1ces, added the Labour Member, Would also be available to private industries.
As regards Indian overseas labour. Dr. Ambedkar felt that it was a delicate matter and protection to Indian labour in Ceylon and Burma could be given only by means of diplomatic action. He felt that he would rather plan to absorb all the available labour in India itself for the purpose of post-war industrialization.
In conclusion, Dr. Ambedkar referred to the Technical Training Scheme and said that so far 68,000 men had been trained. The Government wanted to make this a permanent part of the education System. He regretted that the industrialists indicated at a recent conference at Calcutta their desire not to have technically trained men on the ground they had to pay more for them, but an agreement had been reached that those technically trained men who would be demobilized would be given further training for eight or nine months more at the cost of Government, so that they might be better qualified for peace-time industrial labour. He hoped that the industries would come forward and absorb as many technically trained men as possible.