Labour Bureau
Government of India







4.1.1  The Bidi Industry is a highly labour intensive industry where a large proportion of workers falls in the unorganised sector.These workers have not been able to organize because of a number of constraints such as (a) casual and scattered nature of employment, (b) illiteracy and lack of awareness, (c) low capital investment per employee, (d) superior strength of the employee, etc.Identification of these workers, widely scattered in the urban and rural areas, is necessary for extending the benefits under various welfare schemes run by the State Labour Department as well as the Welfare Commissioner, Government of India in an effective manner.The present Chapter describes the characteristics of the employees covered under the present Study in terms of attributes like education, length of service, age, caste and origin (rural/urban). These characteristics have a bearing on the level of implementation of the Minimum Wages Act, 1948.

4.2Types of Employees

4.2.1  The Study covered 400 employees comprised of 106 ‘Bidi Workers’ and 294 'Bidi Rollers' (home workers). Different categories of employees at various stages of sampling were covered to give adequate representation to all categories.

4.2.2 Bidi Workers  The number of bidi workers under different categories covered by the study in different strata are presented in Table 4.1.

Table 4.1  Category-wise Distribution of Bidi Workers

-The percentage figure shown against the total of each category is weighted averages. The weights being total workers(category-wise) in all the strata.  The perusal of the table reveals that large proportion of the workers (84.9 per cent) in the covered establishments were engaged in production oriented operations such as wrapping, making of bundles, labelling, tarai, sorting/checking, sekai, raw material distribution, etc.The remaining 15.1 percent were engaged in the office work.However, in some small bidi making areas like Bhopal, Indore, Ujjain, Gwalior, Datiya etc. and in small bidi factories, production workers were usually engaged in more than one operation. But for the present study such workers have been put in the category in which they were generally employed.It was also found that in some areas, Sorters / Checkers were also distributing raw materials and Clerks were working as Managers in small branches of the Trade Mark Establishments.

4.2.3 Bidi Rollers  The Bidi Rollers constituted 73.5 percent of the total employees covered in the bidi establishments in the State. Sattedars distributed raw material at their dwellings for rolling bidis. The distribution of Bidi Rollers covered in the study by stratum and by gender is presented in Table 4.2.

Table 4.2  Sex-wise Distribution of Bidi Rollers Covered 

EXHIBIT - 4  Sex –wise Distribution of Bidi Rollers Covered (Table 4.2)  It is evident from the above table that the proportion of females among the Bidi Rollers was as much as 72.4 percent. The high proportion of females in bidi rolling can be attributed to the fact that bidi rolling is done at the dwellings of the Bidi Rollers and the female Bidi Rollers found it more convenient to take up this job alongwith their domestic chores. It was also observed that the majority of these Bidi Rollers belonged to the Muslim community who (females) were averse to go out of their homes for wage employment. In fact, it was observed that females in rural areas prefer to seek employment in bidi rolling during lean agricultural season and supplement their household income in free time as there are no fixed time limits or hours for completing the jobs and the female Bidi Rollers can do it alongside their domestic work.

4.3 Level of Education

4.3.1  Bidi employees constitute a heterogeneous group of workers whose working depends on experience and skills acquired over time. Majority of the employees work on piece rate wages.The piece-rate employees include a vast majority of Bidi Rollers and the bidi workers attending to labelling, packing, wrapping, etc.These employees were vulnerable to exploitation due to lack of knowledge about the prescribed wages, limits for rejection of sub-standard bidis and capabilities to keep an account of the raw material, output and deductions made by the employers.The level of awareness and education has a direct bearing on the capability of the employees to know about their rights and responsibilities and seek redressal of their grievances.Therefore, it is necessary to have data about the level of education. During the study, an attempt was made to study the level of education of bidi employees.

4.3.2 Bidi Workers

Table 4.3. presents the percentage distribution of bidi workers according to the level of education.

Table 4.3  Distribution of Bidi Workers by their Level of Education

EXHIBIT - 4 BidiWorkers Coveredby their Level of Education (Table 4.3)

Above table reveals that among the bidi workers working in the premises of the establishments only 7.5 percent workers had education beyond matriculation level; 25.5 percent workers were illiterate, 39.6 and 15.1 percent workers had studied upto Primary and middle levels respectively and the remaining 12.3 percent were Matriculates. They were generally working as Taraiwalas, Sorters, Checkers, Bhattiwala (Furnaceman/Sekai Wala), Raw Material Distributors, Packers, Wrappers, etc.The bidi workers with education beyond matriculation level were usually working as clerks responsible for account keeping, supervision and decision making.All the bidi workers, had acquired adequate knowledge about the jobs assigned to them on the basis of experience.

4.3.3Bidi Rollers

The Bidi Rollers (home workers) constituted a homogeneous group of workers.Majority of them being females who were low paid workers devoid of bargaining power and residing in rural areas.Their wage employment is dependent on the Sattedars or their agents.The employer-employee relationship carries no meaning under such circumstances.They were available for rolling bidis at any rate much below the prescribed wages. They constituted the group of'wage takers' with near zero reservation price, who have no choice but to accept the wages offered to them how-so-ever low their levels may be. The percentage distribution of Bidi Rollers according to their level of education is presented in Table 4.4.

Table 4.4 Distribution of Bidi Rollers by their Level of Education

EXHIBIT - 4  Bidi Rollers Covered by their Level of Education (Table 4.4)

A perusal of the table reveals that majority of the Bidi Rollers (41.5 percent) were illiterate, only 3.7 percent of them had received education upto matriculation and none was educated beyond matric. This was attributed to the fact that a large number of the Bidi Rollers were females, mostly belonging to rural areas or to the muslim community who were traditionally averse to outdoor activities whether for education or employment.The educated ones also had to take up this job, as they did not have access to other avenues of employment.

4.3.4All Bidi Employees

The percentage distribution of all the bidi employees (bidi workers and Bidi Rollers) taken together according to the levels of education is presented in Table 4.5.

Table 4.5  Percentage Distribution of Bidi Employees by Levels of Education

The table reveals that the proportion of illiterate workers and those having education upto primary level was more or less same i.e. 37.3 percent and 38.7 percent respectively.Only 2 percent of the employees had received education beyond matric level. About 16.0 and 6.0 per cent had received education upto middle level and matric level respectively.

4.4 Distribution of Employees by Broad Age Groups

4.4.1  Section 24 and Section 25 of the Beedi and Cigar Workers (Conditions of Employment) Act, 1966 prohibit the employment of children below the age of 14 years and of young persons between the age of 14 to 18 years in any industrial premises. Section 25 also restricts the women workers working in night shifts from 7.00 p.m. to 6.00 a.m. The employees covered by the study have been classified into three broad age groups viz., 18 to 30 years, 31 to 45 years and 46 to 60 years.It is evident from the Table 4.6 that a significant proportion (62.3 per cent)of the workerscovered in the study were in the age group of 31-45 years followed by 29.2 per cent in the age group of 18-30 years and a meagre 8.5 percent in the age group of 46-60 years.

Table 4.6  Distribution of Bidi Workers by Age Groups

EXHIBIT – 5  Distribution of Bidi Workers by Age Group (Table 4.6)

Table 4.7 depicts the distribution of the Bidi Rollers by age groups.The age structure of the Bidi Rollers is similar to the bidi workers. The highest proportion (52.4 percent) of Bidi Rollers was also found to be in the age group of 31-45 years, followed by 38.4 percent in the age group of 18-30 years and 9.2 percent in the 46-60 years age group.

Table 4.7 Distribution of Bidi Rollers by Age Groups

EXHIBIT – 6  Distribution of Bidi Rollers by Age Group (Table 4.7)

4.5 Caste Composition

The caste composition of employees in the establishments covered is presented in Table 4.8.

Table 4.8 Proportion of the Scheduled Castes Amongst the Employees

It emerges from Table 4.8 that only 15.1 percent of the bidi workers belonged to the Scheduled Castes category.The study revealed that the Scheduled Castes workers usually preferred to move out in search of higher wages for supplementing their family income, the workers belonging to other castes on the other hand preferred employment at their home places even on low wages. The overall percentage of the Scheduled Castes workers among the all bidi employees was found to be 42.2 percent.There was no Scheduled Tribes worker in the sample establishments.

4.6 Length of Service

4.6.1  The information relating to length of service of bidi employees collected during the survey indicated that long years of service in the industry improved the level of awareness of the employees about their rights as well as the existing legal provisions and made them better equipped to struggle for the same. Percentage distribution of bidi workers and Bidi Rollers according to the length of service is presented in Table. 4.9.

Table 4.9  Distribution of Bidi Workers andBidi Rollers by Length of Service

EXHIBIT – 7(A)  Distribution of Bidi Workers by Age Group (Table 4.7)

EXHIBIT – 7(B)  Distribution of Bidi Rollers by Length of Service (Table 4.9)

4.6.2  It emanates from table 4.9 that 53.7 percent of the bidi workers& 49.7percent of Bidi Rollers had put in less than 10 years of service.The percentage of workers and Bidi Rollers with 10-20 years of service is 39.6 percent and 43.5 percent and for those who had put in more than 20 year of service, it was 6.7 percent and 6.8 percent respectively.

4.6.3  Welfare facilities like the provision of provident fund, bonus, leave with wages, health and housing provided by the Welfare Commissioner, Government of India encouraged the employees to continue with their jobs. 

4.7 Origin of Workers:

The bidi industry comprises of a large number of establishments, industrial premises, distribution and collection centres with clusters of Bidi Rollers scattered over cities, towns and villages. The industry draws its manpower both from rural and urban areas. Rural labour generally, is more vulnerable to exploitation than their urban counterparts.The percentage distribution of both ‘bidi workers’ and ‘Bidi Rollers’ according to the area of origin is given in Table 4.10.

Table 4.10  Proportion of Employees with Rural/Urban Background

4.7.2  The table clearly highlights that bulk of the bidi employees -73.0 percent, had a rural background and only 27.0 percent had an urban base. The proportion of bidi workers and Bidi Rollers having rural background was 77.4 and 71.4 per cent respectively mainly because of the low availability ofother employment opportunities in the rural areas.

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