Labour Bureau and the History Labour Statistics in India

Labour Statistics in India may be said to have originated when the first national population census was conducted in 1872. This census gave not only the count of number of persons, but also the number of gainfully employed. Since then every census has thrown useful data on workers in different industries and occupations every 10 years. Besides the statistics on employment thrown by the census, other data on labour statistics until the Second World War, were collected on ad-hoc basis, mostly as a by product of administration of labour laws and not as a basis for formulation of labour policies. The Royal Commission on Labour in 1931 pointed out the need for systematic collection of labour statistics. It observed that the policy must be built on facts as the uncertainty of facts would lead to confusion and conflict regarding its aim. The Commission recommended the adoption of suitable legislation enabling the Competent Authority to collect and collate information regarding the living, working and socio-economic conditions of industrial labour. Further, the inflationary pressure during the early period of the Second World War gave rise to demands of workers for compensation in their wages necessitating setting up of machinery for measuring changes in prices. Accordingly, Government of India constituted & set up the Rau Court of Enquiry in 1940 under the Trade Disputes Act (1929) to recommend statistical machinery for measuring movement in prices. The Rau Court of Enquiry recommended compilation and maintenance of Cost of Living Index Numbers for measuring the rate of compensation to be paid to the workers for the rise in cost of living.

This recommendation of the Rau Court of Enquiry (1940) led to setting up of the Directorate of Cost of Living at Shimla in 1941 with the objective of conducting Family Budget Enquiries and compiling Cost of Living Index Numbers for important centres in the country on a uniform basis. The Directorate conducted enquiries during the period 1943-45.   However, with the increased Government intervention in the field of industrial relations during the Second World War, the need for more systematic collection and processing of labour statistics acquired significance.  The result was the enactment of Industrial Statistics Act in 1942 to facilitate collection of statistics on (a) matters relating to factories and (b) certain specified  areas of welfare and conditions of labour. Further, arrangements were made for the collection and processing of the data flowing from the administration of important labour Acts, such as the Trade Unions Act, 1926 and the Payment of Wages Act, 1936, etc. The need for more comprehensive labour statistics in the context of formulation of labour policy led to the setting up of the Labour Bureau on October 1, 1946 by rechristening the Directorate of Cost of Living with added functions. Since then Labour Bureau is engaged in collection, compilation, analysis and dissemination of statistics on different facets of labour at All India level.

Main Functions of the Bureau

Labour Bureau is responsible for the collation, collection and publication of statistics and related information on wages, earnings, productivity, absenteeism, labour turn-over, industrial relations, working and living conditions and evaluation of working of various labour enactments etc. It is a storehouse of important economic indicators like Consumer Price Index Numbers for Industrial, Agricultural and Rural Labourers; wage rate indices and data on industrial relations, socio-economic conditions in the organised and unorganised sector of industry etc. The functions/activities of Labour Bureau can be classified under three major heads:
1. Labour Intelligence
2. Labour Research
3. Monitoring and evaluation studies under the Minimum Wages Act 1948.

1. Labour Intelligence:

(1) Construction and maintenance of various series of index numbers:

(a) Consumer Price Index Numbers (CPI) for (i) Industrial Workers (ii) Rural Labourers and (iii) Agricultural Labourers.
(b) Wage Rate Indices in respect of industries covered under the Occupational Wage Surveys.
(c) Index Numbers of (i) Money Earnings and (ii) Real Earnings
(d) Retail Price Indices for 31 Essential Commodities in Urban Areas.

(2) Providing serial statistics on Absenteeism, Labour Turnover, Labour Cost, Employment,  contract workers Earnings and industrial disputes.

2.  Labour Research: Conducting research studies/ surveys and bringing out publications on labour related matters in organized and unorganized sector. These include:
(1) Unorganised sector, SC/ST Labour both in Urban and Rural Areas, Women Workers ;
(2) Occupational Wage Survey in the organized sector
(3) Family Budget Enquiries.
(4) Rural Labour Enquiry.
(5) Survey of Labour conditions
(6) Contract Labour Surveys
(7) Annual Survey of Industries.
(8) Digest of Indian Labour Research.
(9) Statistical Profile on women Labour

3. Monitoring and Evaluation: Collects, Compiles and disseminates statistical information on various aspects of labour based on statutory and voluntary returns under different Labour Acts and surveys conducted. Details of information collected under the Acts are given  on web page- Statutory / Voluntary Returns)
4.  Publication of Indian Labour Journal (Monthly), Indian Labour Statistics (Annual), Pocket Book of Labour Statistics (Annual) and Indian Labour Year Book (Annual) giving authoritative and up-to-date statistics on various facets of Labour and on  current Labour scene in the country. ( List given on separate web-page).

Information courtesy : Labour Bureau website ,Government of India

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