engaged by the day, doing the work by contract. The Balkaras, from the same district, are, on the other hand, sawyers by occupation, and only work with timber.
system of advances which prevails in the Wynaad is not altogether
satisfactory. In short, opinions differ widely as to the best mode of
dealing with native labour in the matter of pay. The maistree, or
contractor, who receives an advance of perhaps two or three hundred
rupees, engages to bring up a gang of coolies by a certain time, and
keep them together. He receives a commission of ten percent, of the
wages earned. On some estates the coolies are paid weekly in full;
usually on Saturday, as Sunday is bazaar day at Devala.
commission is not paid to the contractor, but placed to his credit as
against the advance originally paid to him, which is thus gradually
worked off. When the term for which he has contracted has been
completed, the account is squared, either by payment of the balance due
to him, or by receiving from him the balance of his advance which has
not been earned by commission. He is then at liberty to enter into a
fresh agreement, receiving a further advance. But many planters find it
the best policy to pay the commission weekly, when they pay the
coolies—treating the sum originally advanced as a permanent deposit;
the contractor understanding that he is expected to keep up the supply
of labour from season to season.