HC Deb 28 July 1943 vol 391 cc1598-601W
Mr. Riley

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies the total number of Africans in our East and West African Colonies who are now working for industrial and agricultural private employers under compulsory ordinances; what are the average rates of pay, the hours of labour, and the maximum period of compulsory service in any one year?

Colonel Stanley

I append a statement giving the details in respect of Kenya, Tanganyika, Northern Rhodesia and Nigeria, the four territories in which compulsory labour for essential civilian purposes has been approved.

Following is the statement:

1. Kenya.

Approximately 16,000 Africans conscripted for work in essential undertakings were in employment at the end of March. Precise figures are not available, but probably about three-quarters of these were in private employment.

Rates of pay vary with locality, tribe and the nature of work. In each case they include prescribed rations, housing and medical attention. Minimum wage rates have been laid down as follows:

Short periods—8s. to l0s. a month.

Over three months—9s. to 12s. a month.

Considerably more is earned on task work in heavy industries where wages total from 14s. to 20s. a month. In addition a war bonus is now payable which varies according to district.

The working day is of eight hours. The maximum period of service is nine "ticket contracts," i.e. nine to 12 months. After serving for this period, a man is exempt from further conscription for at least three months.

2. Tanganyika.

Some 1,800 Africans have been conscripted for agricultural work under private employers, but all these men have either already returned to their homes or will shortly be doing so. It is expected that it will be necessary to conscript 4,000 men for next season in addition to the voluntary labour available.

Rates of pay are not less than the local ruling rates for voluntary labour for the type of work performed. Working hours are not specially laid down for this labour, and presumably follow those for labour recruited in the ordinary way. The maximum period of service is nine months. A temporary extension of this period has been suggested for one Province to meet certain seasonal difficulties. This suggestion is under examination.

3. Northern Rhodesia.

There is no direct conscription of Africans for work in private employment. Conscription is at present applied only under the Emergency Powers (African Labour Corps) Regulations, 1942. The Corps is administered by a Controller appointed by the Government under these Regulations. It can be used for any work, including road construction, as the Governor may direct, in furtherance of the war effort. The members of the Corps receive 12s. 6d. per month, plus 2s. 6d. per month bonus at the termination of employment, together with full scale Government rations. This rate is higher than the normal wages rate for labourers in Northern Rhodesia. The Corps has been used in the main for work on farms. No precise information is available as to the hours worked, but the normal working week of an agricultural labourer is one of 52 hours. The members of the Corps are paid and provided with food by the Government, and the fee charged to employers for their services is paid to the Government. The maximum period of service of the Corps is 12 months and the Regulations provide that no member who has been conscripted for service shall again be so conscripted.

The Regulations provide for enrolment, either by voluntary recruitment or by conscription. Of a total enrolment of about 500 labourers, only 115 have been conscripted. The establishment of this Corps has made it unnecessary to continue the earlier scheme for direct conscription of labour for the farms.

4. Nigeria.

The only Africans conscripted in Nigeria for service under private employers are those working on the tin mines, whose production it became essential to raise to the maximum following the loss of the tin resources of Malaya. The present figure for the total so employed is 14,500.

The following rates of pay are in force:

  1. (a) When rations and fuel are not provided by employers—22s. per month (four weeks of six working days each).
  2. (b) When rations and fuel are provided—10s. per month (four weeks of six working days each).

This scale compares favourably with the rates paid to voluntary labour. In addition a bonus of 4s. per month is paid to all workers who satisfactorily complete their four months term of service under the Regulations for compulsory service.

A minimum scale of fuel and rations is prescribed by Government. The scale of rations is kept under constant review and has recently been improved.

Free housing and free medical and hospital attention are provided. Full wages are paid during absence due to sickness.

No precise information is available as to the hours worked but it has been laid down by the Government as one of the conditions of service that the tasks and hours of work performed shall not exceed those ordinarily performed by voluntary labour. Every labourer is entitled to at least one day of rest in every week. No worker is required to perform service underground.

The period of service under the Regulations may not exceed four months (including the time occupied in travelling to and from the mines) in any one period of 12 months.