Native Labour from Nyasaland


    THE announcement by the Colonial Office that the Governments of Southern Rhodesia, Northern Kho-desia and Nyasaland have entered into a provisional agreement regulating the employment of emigrant labour from the last-named has come shortly after Mr. Ormsby-Gore's recent insistence on the importance of the labour problem in its effect on the well-being of the native community (see NATURE, Oct. 31, p. 735). It is an assurance that the conditions to which the report of the Committee on emigrant labour from Nyasaland has directed attention will not be allowed to continue without a serious endeavour to eliminate those factors which have been shown to be the cause of hardship and suffering, as well as a danger to the future prosperity of the Protectorate. The agreement is to remain in force for four years as from August 21 last, and thereafter is terminable at twelve months notice. Under its terms, identification certificates are to be issued to all male natives seeking employment, and those leaving their own territories for that purpose will bear evidence to that effect, as well as a notification of physical fitness. In future, so far as native and industrial conditions permit, only such certificated labour will be admitted by the employing Governments. Not only will the flow of labour be controlled, if necessary, but also—a matter of much greater importance—labourers are to be returned to their own territory after an economic period of employment, which is not to exceed two years. This provision, even if it does not entirely remove the evil of a permanent loss in population, will at least lessen the numbers of those who do not return to their homes after a period of extra-territorial employment. A further important provision sets up a standing committee of representatives of the three Governments to secure co-ordination and to consider problems in connexion with the supply of labour as they arise.

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    Native Labour from Nyasaland. Nature 138, 835–836 (1936).

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