ECONOMIC TRENDS

WAGE TRENDS

In the nature of things, level of wages of different categories of labour underwent changes and fluctuations along with the changes that took place in the general economic pattern. The Khandesh District Gazetteer of 1880 gave a very valuable information showing the trend of wage rates from 1788 to 1880, which is furnished below.

" According to returns prepared in 1820 under Captain Briggs' orders, from 1788 to 1797, in Amalner, Erandol, and Nasirabad, the average daily wage of a carpenter, a blacksmith, a weaver, and a tailor was 6d. (4 annas); of a bricklayer and bearer 5d. (3 2/3 annas); and of a labourer 3d (2 annas). Bullock hire was 6d. (4 annas) a day; cart hire was from 1s. to 2s. (as. 8-Re. 1), according as there was one or two pairs of bullocks; and pony hire was 7d. (5 annas). Between 1798 and 1817, there was a considerable increase in the earnings of skilled and unskilled workers. In 1817 the daily wage of a carpenter was 9d. (6 annas); of a blacksmith 7d. (5 annas); of a bricklayer 8d. (5 annas); of a weaver 6d. (4 annas); of a tailor 7d. (5 annas) ; of a basket maker 5d. (3 annas); of a bearer 7d. (5 annas); and of a labourer 4d. (3 annas); bullock hire was 9d. (6 annas) a day; cart hire from 1s. 6d. to 3s. 3d. (as. 12-Re. 1 5/8) and pony hire was 11d. (7 annas). Between 1818 and 1820 wages changed but little. Cart hire was from 2s. to 4s. (Re. 1-Rs 2), and pony hire was 1s. (8 annas).

1828.

" In 1828, ten years after the introduction of British rule, the daily wage of unskilled labour was for a man 3d. to 4d. (2-3 annas), for a woman 2d. to 3d. (l-2 annas), and for children under fourteen 2d. (1 annas). At the same time, besides the daily present of a handful of ears of grain at harvest time, the wages of field labour were 3d. (2 annas) for a man, 2d. (1 annas) for a woman, and 1 (1 anna) for a child. In field work men used also to be engaged by the month, without food at 8s. (Rs. 4), and with food at from 2s. to 4s. (Re. 1-Rs. 2).

These engagements generally lasted from two to four months and ended with harvest. Of skilled labourers, ordinary bricklayers and carpenters were paid 1s. (8 annas), and clever workers 1s. 3d. (10 annas) a day. Of personal servants, the monthly wage of a tailor was 1 (Rs. 10), and of a groom 16s. (Rs. 8). Pony and cart hire was d. and 1d. a mile (1 and 2 annas a kos). Payment used to be made in copper coins called dhabhus and shivrais worth d. and 3/8d. ( and anna).

1842.

"In 1842, the daily wage of unskilled labour was 3d. (2 annas). Far from large towns field workers were usually paid in grain, with, perhaps at Divali, the present of a turban and a pair of shoes. The value of the grain was about 1d. (1 anna) a day. This rate of wage lasted till about 1850, when the making of railways and other public works began to affect the labour market. From that time labour has, except in 1877-78, steadily risen in value, In 1863, the daily wage of unskilled labour was for men from 6d. to 10d, (4-7 annas), for women from 4d to 6d. (3-4 annas) and for children from 2d. to 3d. (1-2 annas). At the same time, among skilled labourers the daily wage was, for stone masons and bricklayers front 1s. to 1s. 6d. (8-12 annas), for carpenters from 1s. Gd. to 2s. 6d. (annas 12-Re. 1). and for tailors from 1s. to 1s. 3d. (8-10 annas). Cart hire was 1s. 6d. (12 annas) a day, or 2d. (1 2/3 annas) a mile in the fair months, and 3d. (2 annas) in the rains. Pony hire was d. ( anna) a mile.

1870-80.

"Between 1870 and 1880. the daily wage of unskilled labour has remained pretty constant at 6d. (4 annas) for a man, 3d. (2 annas) for a woman, and from 1d. to 3d-. (1-2 annas) for a child. During the 1876-77 famine, so great was the supply of labour seeking employment that in spite of the rise in produce prices, the wages of unskilled labour fell to 2d. (1 anna) for men and 1 d. (1 anna) for women.

" A special class of unskilled carriers, or hamals. work in gangs of six to thirty. and, except that the headman has an extra quarter, divide their daily earnings in equal shares. They are paid 1d. (1 anna) for unloading from 660 to 704 pounds of grain, and d. ( anna) for carrying a bale of unpacked cotton from the warehouses to the cotton presses. In the busy season, from February to May, their average daily earnings amount to about 6d. (4 annas).

" Town workers and craftsmen are paid in coin, and field workers partly in grain and partly in coin. The custom varies in different parts of the district and with different crops............Day labourers are, as a rule, paid at intervals of four or five days when their wages generally amount to about 2s. (Re. 1). Town labourers go to work at daybreak, come home at noon for dinner and after resting for two hours, work till sunset. Field workers, beginning at daybreak, and taking their millet bread, onions and pickle or chutney with them, eat them at noon, and, after resting for about two hours work on till dark. Cotton picking is paid for at 1d. for nine pounds (about 1 pie a pound). A good worker will earn from 1d. to 3d. (1-2 annas) a day. The people employed in this work are chiefly women. During most of the rains and far into the cold weather (June-February), field workers find employment in helping husbandmen to weed, watch, reap, and harvest their crops. From February to March they are usually employed in bringing headloads of grass for sale. During the rest of the year they help bricklayers and carpenters, and repair roads, dig ponds, gin cotton, and carry loads. House servants, whether in towns or villages, are paid from 8s. to 12s. (Rs. 4-Rs. 6) a month. Wages, when work is unbroken, are paid every week on market days, otherwise they are paid daily. In a labourer's household the wife generally earns enough to provide the family with salt, oil, chillies, and spices, perhaps about one-sixth of the family funds. Children earn enough to keep themselves in clothes, and may he said to contribute nearly one-twelfth of the family funds "[Gazetteer of Bombay Presidency, Khandesh District, 1880, pp. 200-02.]

During the past few decades wages of all classes of labour showed an upward trend. The wage rates of field labour engaged in sowing, ploughing, threshing of grains, digging wells, etc., have increased considerably. Skilled jobs in agriculture are paid at a daily wage rate ranging from Rs. 2.50 to Rs. 4. Agricultural labourers are also paid at rates ranging from Rs. 2 to Rs. 3. Women engaged in weeding, cutting and harvesting operations are paid at the rate of Rs. 1.25 to Rs. 2. For harvesting of groundnut and cotton women workers are paid on the basis of turnover of work done. A woman worker earn- about Rs. 2 to Rs. 2.50 per day during the harvesting. season of groundnut and cotton.

The old system of employing annual servants (saldars) for full time agricultural work is still prevalent in Dhulia district. A saldar who is a full time servant is given daily food and a few clothes. Besides food. He is paid Rs. 350 to Rs. 700 by way of his annual wages, depending upon the amount of work he is required to put in.

The baluta system which was the basis of the self-sufficient village economy of the past has still survived though on a limited scale. It dots not enjoy the same importance as it did in the past. The balutedars (village artisans) consist of barber, potter, shoe-maker, carpenter, black-smith, washerman, sweeper, etc. They get their annual wages in kind for the services rendered to the peasants. The agriculturist now. prefers to pay the artisans in cash according to the services rendered by them clue perhaps to the rising prices of agricultural commodities. This has affected the economic position of some categories of the artisans, and they have been compelled to search for other avenues of employment.

Wages of almost all categories of casual labour decline during the months of February, March, April and July because of the fall in demand for their services. Wages are at their peak during September. October. November and June.

 

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