188.8.131.52 Systems of Labour Organization
The system of labour organization regulates the relations
between the people carrying out the work on the farm, particularly
the method of dividing the work and the yield i.e., the wages.
There are considerable differences between the cases in which
these relations exist among family
members alone (family labour organization) and those cases
in which the farmer's family employs hired labour (labour
organization with hired hands). The working relations in collectives
of various kinds fall in an intermediate position.
Family Labour Organization
At all times, members of a family have pooled their labour
to cover their needs. This system of family labour organization
has existed since time immemorial and is spread throughout
member of the family is willing and ready to do his best because
he is aware that he only has to share the fruits of his work
with the members of his own intimate family. The fluctuations
in the family's labour capa
city resulting from the family's life cycle influence the
organization of the farm; bottlenecks are compensated for
by overworking, changing the
cropping intensity, or leasing out or renting additional land.
Within the family, the method of dividing the work among the
members and sexes is often influenced by custom.
This system of family labour organization can also be confronted
with problems if the farm unit becomes too small and not all
of the members
are needed to carry out the work. As long as no alternatives
for earning a living are available, the family usually remains
together and splits the work and yields. This leads to rural
underemployment and low living standards in the agricultural
sector. As soon as alternative job opportunities are created,
there is a transition to sideline activities and parttime
Labour Organization with Hired Hands
Whereas in industrial countries there are only few hired
agricultural labourers and these are mainly found on the large
farms, there is a large number of wage labourers in the rural
areas of the developing countries. This is partly the result
of the low level of mechanization in agriculture in the developing
countries. What is even more important, however, is the fact
that after all the land has been settled, there is no more
land available to the growing population. Since only a small
number of non agricultural jobs exist, the landless are forced
to offer their labour to the landlords for a wage in order
to receive part of the crop yield and, thus, establish a basis
to subsist upon. This one-sided shift in the conditions on
the labour market has resulted in the fact that many of the
landless live in poor economic and social circumstances. It
must be mentioned, however, that the labour relations and
living conditions vary greatly. The following types of agricultural
labourers are widely spread throughout the world.
Permanently hired labourers: These farm
hands, who have a regular job, are usually found on somewhat
larger farms that are in a position to finance a permanent
worker. They are often paid on the basis of an annual wage.
The working relationships are long standing, sometimes lifetime.
This results in a close, patriarchal relationship that is
not only limited to the obligations regarding work and pay,
but rather includes a personal relationship and loyality as
well as an obligation on the side of the employer to protect
and help his employees. Some of these develop into skilled
labourers such as tractor drivers, maintenance men for pumps,
rtc., once a higher level of development has been reached.
Casual labourers usually find employment
in agriculture only during the time of the labour peaks.During
the rest of the time, they try to find work in road construxtion,
building construction, or similar jobs. They are, in other
words, not agricultural labourers in the real sense of the
word, but rather offer their labour to anyone who can use
it. They are in many cases unemployed for several months in
a year. They are only able to earn a modest existence because
of the relatively high piecework wages paid during the harvest
time and because the women and children also work frequently.
This group of hired labourers, which is numerically the largest,
as the outcome of the rapid population growth without a simultaneous
development of the job opportunities.
Agricultural labourers who own small farms:
If through inheritance or property losses the farm becomes
too small, a farmer has to look for an additional source of
income in order to supply the needs of his family. In many
cases this is only possible as a hired hand on a large farm.
Because of the large number of marginal farms, this form is
widely spread although it is hardly mentioned in statistics
as these farmers are classified as either farmers or tenants.
Coloni: A special form of the above mentioned
type are the coloni, farm hands who are given a piece of land
that they can cultivate themselves in way of payment for their
services. This form is found in Latin America.
Migratory workers: The labour peaks during
certain seasons, which are particularly prevalent in rnonoculture
regions, are partly met with migratory workers from distant
areas. In some cases, the same gang of workers appears annually
at specific farms or villages. The emergence of the national
states in Africa created problems for the traditional migratory
worker routes since the borders can no longer be so easily
crossed. Part of the migratory workers belong to ethnical
or religious minorities.
Plantation workers: The employment situation
of the plantation workers has several characteristics in cammon
with that of industrial workers: rigidly organized work, work
regulations, union organization. Despite this, the living
conditions of this group are frequently poor: low payment,
poor accommodations, monotonous work, a lack of opportunities
for advancement. Because of this situation, plantation workers
are likewise frequently members of minorities or aliens. In
some regions, plantation workers are allowed to cultivate
a subsistence plot.
Rural craftsmen: In some societies, work
carried out by handicraftsmen is paid with a wage. In other
cases, however, a reciprocal relationship has developed such
as the jajmani or sep relationships
in South Asia. In these instances, the handicraftsmen carry
out all of the necessary work that belongs to their occupation
for a lump sum paid in kind by the farmers they have an agreement
with. In this way, the handicraftsmen are protected against
unemployment, and the farmers have their skills available
at all times,
Bonded labour: Sometimes known as economic
slavery, this form emerges as a result of economic obligations,
specifically debts. In some cases, people enter this relationship
voluntarily in order to obtain protection and a basis of existence.
Usually these people enter a contract upon drawin ack, Low
wages and high interest often result in these relationships
turning out to be of a long duration, sometimes lifelong or
inheritable. Such contracts are indeed illegal, but in their
situation there is little chance that the workers can do anything
against it. A milder form is a contract under which a creditor
can demand serervices from a debtor at any time. The creditor
has, thus, labourers at his disposal without the obligation
of employing them and paying them continually.
Collective Labour Organization
Workers labouring in the various forms of production cooperatives
and collectives have both characteristics of family and hired
labourers. They are expected ire show self serving interest
and care, much as in the case of family labourers, while simultaneously
having the cbance to specialize as found on large farms. Regarding
the competence to make decisions, working regulations, and
pay, their position is closer to that of hired labourers.
Contrary to the theoretical goals, the problem of creating
motivation without pressure and material incentives has not
been solved, and some of the advantages have been outweighed
by the bureaucratic apparatus.