Hide Articles List

7 articles on this Page

Labour Notes. I


Labour Notes. I THE POLITICAL OUTLOOK. The Press has been full of .speculation about the intentions of the Prime Minister and the usual suggestion lias been made that Mr. Lloyd George intends to make a fresh bid for Labour Party support. Nothing is known about Mr. Lloyd George's intentions, and there is not a word of truth in the statement that the Labour Party has been approached with an invitation to join Mr. Lloyd George. These political specula- tions appear to be intelligent inferences from the fact that Mr. Lloyd George feels himself em- barrassed by his association with the Unionist Party and by his helpless dependence upon Unionist votes in the House of Commons. The results of the successive defeats sustained by the Coalition in the series of bye-elections can- not have failed to convince Mr. Lloyd George of the weakness of his position, and it would not be at all 's iirprisiiig if he has reverted to the idea with which lie was credited at an earlier stage of forming a new Centre Party on an ad- vanced social programme, which would split the Unioniscts, revive Liberalism, and conciliate Labour. But there is nothing in the Govern- ment programme outlined in the publication en- titled The Future," circulated freely in the â country last week, or in the speech of the Prime Minister at the international Brotherhood Con- gress in the City Temple, that affords the slight- est jusltifieation for the belief that Mr. Lloyd ^George is preparing to break with the reaction- ary forces which maintain him in power. THE PARLIAMENTARY CHAIRMANSHIP. Many organs of the Press have been agitating themselves unnecessarily with regard to the chairmanship of the Parliamentary Labour Party. They seem to imagine that Mr. Adam- son's term of office bus 00111 e to an end, and they fire busy forecasting his successor, taking it for granted that a successor will be appointed at the beginning of the autumn session. As a matter of fact, there is no vacancy to he filled. Mr. A-claiii,<)n NN-,Is elected chairman in accordance witli the usual practice of the Labour Party for a period of 12 months. The next election of â officers is not due to take place until the opening of the first session of Parliament next year. The association of the names of Mr. Henderson, Mr. "Clyne.s, and Mr. Thomas for the chairmanship of the Parliamentary Party is mere journalistic speculation,. and is wide of the mark. Pro- phecies about the Labour Party are generally falsified when decisions have to be taken. There will be no change durillg the autumn session in the leadership of the Parliamentary Party. EVERY REASON FOR NATIONALISATION. In many of the newspapers the statement has now been made that no sufficient reasons have been brought forward for nationalisation that it is a leap in the dark" that once taken it would be irrevocable; that" a.s an experiment it must not be undertaken. This, of course, is simply a method of deceiving the ill-informed. There never has been any enquiry in any indus- try so searching as the Coal Industry Commis- sion of this spring and summer. Special powers were given by Act of Parliament to enable the Commission to extract any information it might desire, and the results were sufficiently startling. It was conclusively shown that enormous profits -shared between the Government and the coal- â¢ownersâwere made during the five years of war, -and that even before the war the colliery inves- tors could count on treffle the rate of interest that comes from deposits in banks. The wit- nesses called before the Commission included some of the largest economists, demonstrators, -and publicists in the. United Kingdom. For the most part they gave their verdict in favour of nationalisation. Sir Richard Redmayne, His Majesty's Chief Inspector of Mines, who has had -1 wider experience of mining than almost any- one else in the world, pronounced decisively against the present system of private ownership, and calling decisively in favour of collective pro- duction. The effect of numerous reasons brought against the continuance of the present system Was seen in the report presented by Sir John :Sankey, who as lawyer has been trained to weigh evidence carefully. The coal problem is not one that can be treated lightly. On it de- pends in no small measure the future prosperity If this country, and the re-establishment of its foreign trade. 1VIININC CAPITAL. Before the war the capital of the coal mining industry amounted to £ 135,000,000, and the average output of the industry of 270,000,000 tons per year. It is easy to remember the â¢finiount of capital if we note that it amounted to l()s. for every ton of output. Before the war the profits were assessed at an average of 9 or 10 per cent. of capital, that is, it amounted to about Is. per toil. This does not include royal- ties, which accounted for another 6d. per ton, 'Or a total whole of £ 0,000,000 per year. During the war the total profits and royalties -of the coal mining industry amounted to £ 160,000,000, which is £ 2-5,000,000 more than the total pre-war capital. In these years, from 1914 to 1919, while hundreds of thousands of workers were investing their lives in the mines. :and millions were risking their lives in the trenches, large investments of money were made ;ind the total capital of the industry considerably increased. This fact in itself disposes of the contention of the colliery owners that any further additions to wages or â ^ny further shortening of hours would ruin the Industry. It has been said for some 40 years that any further advance in the standard of life â of the workers would ruin the industry." COAL PROFITS. Before the war coal profits were Is. per ton, ur between 9 and 10 per cent. on capital. This in itself is a very good return. During the war the profits rose from Is. per ton to 3s. 6d. per ton, or, if we include royalties, which remain â steady, from Is. txd. to 4ts. per ton. The profits I)el, ton were thus more than treble during the War period, but wages were only double. Of these profits the aggregate rose from 13 millions before the war to 39 millions to the third quar- ter of 1918 (on an annual basis), the excess was â¢s hared between the coal owners and the Govern- ment. It must be made clear that the Govern- ment did not stop the profiteering in coal, but prefererd to share the swag. In June, 1918, Mr. Lloyd George's Government imposed an extra 2s. Gel. per ton. By this means the Exechequer exacted £ 25,000,000 per year from the consumer in order to wipe off a deficit. The same trick Was played again this summer, and the Govern- ment imposed 6s. on the price of coal per ton. In this case, again, there was in addition the policy of letting the people suppose that the 6s. WTfis due to the miners' demands for increased wages. From the figures given above it can be clearly seen that there has at all time during the war been more than enough to pay for the modest rises that the miners have claimed. PECKSNIFF AS PREMIER. Charles Dickens surpassed himself when he created the character of Pecksniff. He probably I Lni ever realised how aptly his description of that I- ? jlI 1 1 --? câ? Lloyd George cast himself to the Boclie by the issue of a message to the nation, in which he expressed the most exalted sentiments in the most, exalted language. Unfortunately, just as in the case of Mr. Pecksniff, the records of Mr. Lloyd George's Government give the lie to all his fine declarations. The government which has made a peace of annexations and violence, which has suppressed trade unionism in the police, which has endeavoured to perpetuate the tyrannical regulations of D.O.R.A. and at the bidding of powerful influences has rejected the workers' claim of nationalisation of mines, such a government- is not likely in the future to carry out Mr. Lloyd George's promises. Mr. George said later referring to the world before the war, If we renew that world we shall betray the heroic dead, we shall be guilty of the basest per- fidy which ever blackened a people's fame." These words should be carefully noted down and compared a year hence with Mr. Lloyd George's record. ANOTHER SIDE TO THE GREATER OUTPUT I STUNT. The break-up of the conference which was try- ing to settle the dispute in the Furnishing Trades reflects credit on the employers' side. The National Federation of Furnishing Trade Em- ployers are at times an engagingly frank body, and the statement they issued to the Press on the break-up of the conference certainly put the matter in a nutshell. They said that the break- up was entirely due to the obstinacy of the oper- atives in refusing to accept payment by results which is now recognised as the best method in all trades, and which, with the safeguards they proposed to concede, would have worked out for the operatives best interests. It is difficult to believe that the furnishing trade employers are really ignorant of the fact that payment by re- sults is at the present time one of the most hotly- disputed points in the industrial world, that the metal-working Unions in many districts refuse to work on this system, that the largest wood- working union, the Carpenters and Joiners, specifically forbid it, and have just succeeded in practically banishing it from aircraft work, and that many of the leaders in the Labour world condemn it altogether as a selfish system which demoralises the worker and destroys their spirit, and which moreover, by giving the employer direct inducement to cut the rate, makes for perpetual ill-feeling in the workshop. Undei these circumstances to talk about payment by results as "universally accepted" and "cer- tain to be to the workers' advant;\ge," is to lU- sult the workers' intelligence, and we are not surprised that with this spirit abroad the con- ference broke down. It is not a very good omen for the success of Mr. Brownlie's appeal for greater output. The plain fact is that neither I tlw miners nor any other group of organised workers are inclined to allow themselves to be speeded up in the making of goods for private profit, and systems of payment under which, as an engineering correspondent in the "Times" pointed out, the practice of cutting the rate was almost universal before the war," are not likely to make them any more eager, especially which there are hundreds of thousands of unem- ployed whom those who clamour loudest for it show no desire to re-engage. WHAT AMERICAN MINERS WANT. Resolutions denouncing militarism and con- scription were passed by the Convention of the United Mine Workers of America, but the Con- vention rejected a proposal put forward by the Radical elements to substitute May Day for the American Labour Day as a sign of solidarity with the International. The Convention adopted a resolution pledging support for the Plumb Railway Nationalisa- tion Scheme, described in the" Service" re- cently. The resolution declares that an alliance of the miners with the railway workers will be for the purpose of acting jointly in all matters of mutual interest, such as a democratic demon- stration of these industries with the workers having equal representation on the manage- ment." The resolution calls attention to the economic power wielded by the British Triple Alliance, which is using its strength, it declares, to eradicate the evil conditions of employment, and any similar effort in America must be na- tion-wide in scope. THE THREATENED STEEL STRIKE. I it has become clear that the ste-elworkers of America in their conflict with the United States Steel Corporation are fighting for an elementary Trade Union rightâthe right. of organisa,tion and of recognition of their union. The Chairman of the Steel Corporation, Mr. Gary, in a letter to the presidents of the Subsidiary Steel Com- panies, explains that he has refused to receive a delegation of the workmen because he did not believe that they were authorised to speak for a majority of the steel workers and because to re- ceive. them would have been construed as recog- nition by the Corporation of the closed shop principle. He defended the "open shop as of equal value to employer and employee, meaning thereby Government bargaining. The steel workers have refused President Wilson's request to postpone the strike which they called for Sept-ember 22nd. SOCIALISM SUCCEEDS IN HOLLAND. The Socialists in Amsterdam, Rotterdam, and The Ha.gue have increased the number of seats they held at the recent municipal elections, and these towns have now Socialist mayors. The Socialists have accepted the mayoral nominations on the condition that their municipal programme is adopted.

. -Electric Theatre.

A Virile Council.I


The Teachers' Executive. i

On Tour.