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Labour welfare in coal mining
industry

 

Labour
welfare in coal mining industry plays no less important part in establishing
good industrial relations. Working conditions of the coal miners have important
bearing on health, efficiency and turnover rate.of workers. Good working
condition is recognised as one of the important factors stable labour force. To
reduce the absenteeism and labour turnover rate labour welfare is of vital
importance. Here in this connection, lighting arrangement, ventilation system,
caplamps, hours of work, overtime work, drinking water facilities and
sanitation among others, are to be taken into consideration in examining labour
welfare in coal mines. Having discussed in the previous chapter the main
problems of wages, we shall now examine in this chapter some important Labour Welfare
aspects as determinants of industrial relations in Indian Coal mines.

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Some General Labour Welfare
Arrangements:

Lighting facility:

Lighting
facility has a direct influence over efficiency of the workers and minimization
of accident rates. Coal mining is essentially different from the nature of
operation of work in any industry. Here the workers are to work about 1000 or
2000 feet below the surface away from the light of the sun and thus shut away
from unlighted workers should be provided with adequate lighting facilities in
the galleries and coal faces. Coal Mines Regulations have been framed in regard
to the provision concerning lighting and as such a committee was set up in 1959
in order to make a proper estimation of the requirements of lighting in mines.
On the basis of recommendations of the committee statutory orders have been
served as to the electric lamps to be provided for the workers employed below
ground.

Ventilation Arrangement

Improvement
in underground working conditions is urgently required for enabling miners to
work for the periods the Act so fixed. Miners’ efficiency depends largely on
the ventilation arrangement provided for them underground. Lack of good and
proper ventilation arrangement makes the workers discontented and adversely
affects their motivation and consequently productivity as well. So in order to
mitigate the industrial unrest and to establish a good industrial relations
proper attention to the improvement of ventilation arrangement is urgently
required. Coal Mines Regulations have been framed with regard to the provision
relating to ventilation in coal mines. In order to make a proper estimation of
the requirement of ventilation in mines a Committee was set up in 1959. On the
basis of the recommendations placed by this Committee ventilation standards in
mines have been laid down by the Director General of Mines Safety.

Cap Lamps

To
guide the workers to their working places the role of Cap Lamps is no less important
than any other factor concerning working conditions. Miners’ wages, efficiency
and productivity are dependent upon the light they are provided during the course
of operation. In early stage of mining operation open kerosene kurpies and then
hurricanes were in vogue. Now a days cap lamps have been found the most
effective in providing light   to the Workers.
But the cap lamps supplied to the workers underground coal mines are not upto
mark.

Drinking Water Facilities

Supply
of drinking water to the workers in their work place has an important bearing
on the efficiency of workers. During the course of work the miners get thirsty
because of the arduous nature of work, so in order to allay the thirst of the
workers there shall be sufficient water supply. Supply of adequate drinking water
to the colliery workers has become one of the major problems in the coalfields
and the question concerning drinking water is discussed practically at every
sessions of the Industrial Committee on Coal Mining. But the problem of water
supply remained unsolved and the question came up at the 10th Session of the
Industrial Committee on Coal Mining held at Dhanbad on 30th January, 1967. It
was decided in the Session that a 3-man Committee would be set up to go into
the difficulties that were coming in the way to quick implementation of the
water supply schemes. The Mines Act enjoins managements to provide for adequate
supply of Coal and wholesome drinking water for the persons employed in the
mines. For the supply of drinking water to persons employed below ground, the
Chief Inspector of Mines may make some sort of effective alternative
arrangements.

The
drinking facilities provided by the colliery owners are not sufficient. Only 47.5
percent of the workers are provided with water at a rate of 2 liters per head
as approved under the mine Rules. Under the Mines Rules, at least two liters of
drinking water are required to be provided to every person working in mine. If
the water is not from a public water Supply System, the management may be required
to obtain a certificate of its fitness for human consumption from a competent
health authority.

Sanitation

Sanitary
arrangement has no less effect in improving health conditions of the miners. So
latrines and urinals should be kept free from unhygienic, dirty and stinking
conditions and arrangement should be made to clear urinals and latrines with disinfectants
regularly As per Mines act there shall be provided, separately for males and
females in every mine, a sufficient number of latrines and urinals which shall
be adequately lighted and ventilated and at all times maintained in a clean and
sanitary conditions. But sanitary conditions in coalmines are not satisfactory.
It will be seen that the workers are not provided with latrines and urinals in
a clean and sanitary condition. It is found that in coalmines because of the slackness
of maintaining latrines and urinals in a clean and sanitary conditions by the
management a major part of workers remain isolated to utilize the latrine and
urinals.

Working Hours and Over-time
Payments

The
length of time for which workers have to work each day in filthy and dismal
surroundings has a preponderant effect on productivity. Moreover, the irregular
daily attendance is associated with long working periods and a greater
regularity of attendance can be secured if the hours of work is shortened.
Working hours in coal mines in West Bengal are regulated by the Mines Act. The
Act provides that no person shall be allowed to work in a mine on more than six
days in any one week. The persons employed above ground3 in a mine shall not be
required or allowed to work for more than nine hours in any day and for more
than forty eight hours in any week. The spread over of work has been fixed to
twelve hours a day including half an hour interval after every continuous five
hours of work but the Chief Inspector may for reasons to be recorded, increase
the period of spread over to fourteen hours in any day. For the persons
employed below ground, the Act fixes up the working hours to eight hours in a day
and forty-eight hours in a week, but in order to facilitate the change of shift
the daily working hours are subject to increase with the prior approval of the
Chief Inspector. The hours of work so fixed by the Act in coal mines are not
congenial to health of the workers because of the hazardous and strenuous work
they are to operate and unfriendly environment they are to face. So the
reduction of working hours in Coal Mines becomes imperative. The rate of an
absenteeism can be decreased and productive capacity of labour can be improved
if the working hours are shortened to a certain extent so that the colliery
workers do not find themselves exhausted both in mind and body because of long
hours of work they have to do. The Committee on Hours of Work at the 45th
Session of the International Labour Conference held at Geneva in June, 1961 expressed
the opinion that the existing 48 hours of work in coal mines especially
underground was harmful to the health of the. miners and as such it opined that
normal hours of work should be reduced to 40 hours in a week without any curtail
in the wages of workers,

 

Medical
Facilities

Condition
of health is one of the most important factors that affects the efficiency of
the miners and ultimately the production of the colliery concerned. Bad health
leads to labour turnover, absenteeism which breeds industrial unrest. The Royal
Commission on Labour in India emphasised this point that the health of the
industrial workers is of cardinal importance not only to himself but also in
relation to general industrial development and progress. Medical facilities
include provision of a network of specialized Central and Regional Hospitals, Maternity
and Child welfare centers, T. B. treatment in the T. B. Hospitals, Domiciliary
and Outdoor Domicialiary, Dispensary services, Static and Mobile Ayurvedic
Dispensaries, X-ray facilities, Family Counselling services, Leprosy Treatment,
Facilities for treatment of Infectious cases,. Treatment of Cancer and free
supply of Spectacles and Dentures. Besides, Antimalarial operation and Filarial
Control operation constitute other major medical service to colliers.

For
the treatment and hospitalization of coal miners in West Bengal, one central
hospital has been set up at Kalla, Asansol and two Regional Hospitals have been
set up at Chora and Salanpur one in each region. The bed strength of this
hospital totalling 165 in 1955-1956 had increased to 350 in 1969-70. Free treatment
for prolonged period was given to all the T. B. patients. Most of them were
hospitalized in the acute phase for a short period of 2 to 6 weeks and for the
rest of the period treatment was continued on domiciliary basis. Number of beds
to afford treatment facilities to colliery workers in West Bengal suffering
from T. B. had increased from 12 in 1958-59 to 150 (100 in T.B. Wing Central
Hospital, Asansol and 50 in T.B .Hospital Searsole) in 1969-70. The number of
new patients treated in the various departments of the hospitals accounting to 2445
in indoor and 6243 in outdoor in 1955-56 had increased to 11,109 in indoor and 1,
31,713 in outdoor in 1969-70. As regards the activities of Regional Hospitals
in Raniganj Coalfields.

Educational Facilities

 

 

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