the life of the agricultural worker in Kerala
Agriculture Labour – A Shining Example of Accommodative Kerala.
The observation of agriculture work in Kerala is hair-splitting. The rule book specifies 8 am to 5 pm working with one hour lunch break. The effective working hours work out to 6.
Take the case of lady workers. They start from their homes at 8 and reach by 8.30 in the vicinity of work place. They change their dress and put on working dress and keep their lunch boxes in a nearby house. This process takes 15 to 20 minutes and walk to work place (mostly paddy fields) which needs minimum 15 minutes. On all account they start work at 9.05. At about 10 or 10.30 the landlord serves tea with snacks, the consumption of which takes 15 to 20 minutes.
They stop the work sharp at 12 and speed up to lunch box. They need no clock or wrist-watch to be precise on 12. Somebody from them utters it is twelve and the bell in the nearby church bangs twelve times simultaneously. This is what miracle is.
They take lunch and rest in mini-sleep. Wake up by 2.15 or so and move to the field slowly as they can. They start the work at the earliest by 2.35. Come 3.30 or 3.45 the landlord serves tea, nowadays mostly with snacks as forced, and take minimum 20 minutes for consumption. By 4.45 they wash hands, legs and face and log on to off-field. If any landlord dares to calculate the effective works-hours put in it works out to 3.45 hours and his blood pressure will definitely will soar. But, he never does so for sake of his health.
Take the case of male workers. They come to the field by 8.25/8.30. Tea and snacks consume 20 minutes in the morning. Beedi smoking at 45 or 1 hour intervals consume 30 to 40 minutes at the rate of 10 minutes per smoke before 12.
Return by 2.30 and smoke 3 times before day pack. Tea break eats 20 minutes. They put the work-implement on across shoulder and follow lady workers. In effect the put in work hours are 4 hours.
All these are for minimizing cost of production Kerala way, don’t be mistaken.