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Labour Notes.

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Labour Notes. "THE STRUGGLE BECINS. In pursuance of the instructions given by the Trade Union Congress at Glasgow, the Parlia- mentary Committee at its meeting last wieek de- -.eidt-d to request the Prime Minister to receive â a deputation to discuss the question of mines nationalisation. It will be remembered that the Congress adopted a resolution calling upon the Government to accept the Sankey recommenda- tions; and in the event of the Government re- fusing to do this, the Parliamentary Commit- tee was instructed to call a special conference to decide what form of action should be taken to compel the Government to yield. It is expected that the deputation will be received immediately. PROFITS FROM BYE-PRODUCTS. It is fairly well known that the Coal Orders' profits increased from a shilling per ton to 3/6 per ton (excluding royalties) during the war. It is not so well known that they had various other little helps to enable them to keep their business going rather more than usual." Take coke -ovens. The profits from coke ovens and bye-pro- duct works which were not under the Coal Con- trol increased-very considerably during the war, the additional profit being estimated at 6d. per ton. The demands of war industries and par- ticularly the demand for high explosives meant -a. vast expansion of business for these bye-pro- duct works. The aggregate that resulted from this 6ck per ton. was not subject to any deduc- tion from the Coal Controller. THE COAL-OWNERS' NEST-ECC. I In addition to this little extra the coal owners had remitted during the war by an arrangement between tke Board of Inland Revenue and the 'Coal Controller on the one hand and the colliery -companies on the other a sum on which no il- come tax was charged. It was set aside as a reserve for the purpose of doing the necessary repair work which had to be postponed during ti-ic- stress of the war. It was estimated by Mr. Holmes, M.P., himself a colliery accountant of long experience, that this accumulated reserve â on which no income tax had been charged was sufficient to pay the wages of sixty thousand men for twelve months while they were over- taking the arrears of repair work. In the Government's fabulous estimate of the deficit on the coal industry for the year 1919, -no allow- ance was made for this sum, and until Mr. Holmes exposed the matter in the House of Commons, it looked as if all this money was agoing as a tree gift to the colliery proprietors. 'THE MIDDLEMAN'S PROFITS. Mr. H. G. Wells once wrote a tract called "This Misery of Boots," in which there was a picture of a boot covered with a host of little parasites, all of whom extracted their toll of rent, interest and profit before the foot-gear -reached the consume. Similarly we may pic- ture every lump of coal as being covered with a host of little parasites, each of whose charges ."ends up the price. This, of course, is a com- monplace of every one of our industries under capitalism, but it is particularly bad in the case of coal. The evidence of the Coal Commission revealed the fact that between the coal pro- ducer and the coal consumer there were not one xaiik of middlemen, but tier after tier of middle- men. each extracting his little perquisite. It was estimated that in London alone the mere establishment charges of the firms engaged in 'distributing coal amounted in the aggregate to ovc-1 £803,000, and the total net profits to over half a million a year. It was shown that the -actual 'sum allowed to be charged by the dealers on each ton of coal after it had been brought to London with the railway rate, wagon hire and -all factors' charges paid, was no less than 12/6. This was allowed bv the Coal Controller who gave a singularly wide and generous margin of profit. It is clear, however, that under a sys- tem of free competition, the charges in many â cases would be even higher. Facts like these -as to the enormous wastage of money on the 1,600 coal dealers in London serves to explafn why coal is dear. It is not the miners, it is the profiteer and the middleman that make the â consumer pay through the nose. CO.OPERATORS GET COAL CHEAPER. I It was s hown at the Coal Commission that^the 'C/o-ooerative Societies who were not allowed to sell coal at the cheaper price than that fixed by the Controller were able, after allowing for all â¢expenses and a fair margin, to give a large divi- dend on coal to their customers. The evidence showed that a member of a Co-operative Society often gets his coal at from 2/6 to 5/- a ton â cheaper than the non-co-operator. In some causes in Scotland the rebate was even higher. This was partly due to the fact that the Co-operative Societies were not out for profit, and partly be- ,cause their system of distribution was mora economical than the .competing and overlapping "distribution of private enterprise. 'THE BROTHERS CEDDES. It is extremely unfortunate that Labour's ne- gotiations with the Government on industrial issues have to be so largely conducted through the Brothers Geddes. Neither of them can be regarded as qualified to deal with the workers. for both have the defects of their qualities. Sir Auckland Geddes finds it difficult to forget that he is a professor, and indulges in lectures on -e lementary economic:* at the wrong moment; while his brother, Sir Eric, combines the manner -of a school-master with that of a foreman plate- layer. The result is that the workers who have to deal with them feel that they are being alter- nately lectured and bullied, and they dislike the -experience. HOW THE TRUTH COMES OUT. Our readers will remember that at the time of the National Registration Act there were cer- tain doubts in the minds of Labour men as to whether the Act might, not he used in further- ance of conscription, and that Mr. Asquith's Government denied over and over again that any thought of conscription had ever entered their nunds. But the War Cabinet's Report for 1918 states quite definitely and unblushingly not only that the Registration Act was the first stone in the structure of the conscript army, but even that the information colleeted under it was handed over to local authorities to use at their discretion. -AMERICAN MINERS' MOVE. By a very large vote the United Mine Workers of America, at their convention in Cleveland, Ohio. have declared in favour of nationalisation. They propose that the Government should pur- chase the mines at a valuation to he determined bv their own assessors and that the miners should be fully represented in the mining ad- > ministration. They also propose to help the Canadian miners to secure nationalisation but they have decided that priority shall be given to the railway brotherhoods in their demand for na- tionalisation of the railways. The report of the Wages Scale Committee pre- sented to the Convention propose d that a de- mand should be made for a uniform 60 per cent. l increase in wages of all day labour; a 6-hour working day and a 5-day working week; time and a half for overtime, and double time for Sundays and holidays. The officials of the Miners' Union were instructed to call a general strike on November 1st, unless a satisfactory agreement is reached before that time on the demands presented. STEEL WORKERS' STRIKE. It cannot be said too often or too emphatically that the strike of the American steel workers arises from the refusal of the President of the United States Steel Corporation, supported by other steel manufacturers and producers, to re- cognise the workers' union. The steel workers. jn fact, are on strike for an elementary trade union right, and the bloodshed which has been caused in the course of the struggle lies on the heads of the employers who oppose the efforts of the men to combine and who resist any at- tempt to introduce the principle of collective bargaining. It should be remembered also that the effort to organise the steel workers was initiated by the American Federation of Labour, who appointed some of its leaders for the pur- pose. The Canadian Trades and Labour Congress has endorsed the action of the American steel workers in striking for "recognition." of their union and the right of collective bargaining. SWISS SOCIALISTS AND INTERNATIONAL. I Out of a total of about 50,000.members in the Swiss Socialist Party 22,000, according to a message from Berne, have voted on the question of joining the Third International. The ballot resulted in 14,364 voting against the proposal, which was put forward by the Party Congress and the Executive, and 8,599 were in fvaour of it. TROUBLE IN NORWAY. I The lock-out in the bookbinding and lithogra- phic trades in Norway, to which reference was made in the service last week, has led to a grave industrial crisis, and the Labour organisations have declared a general strike in several trades and industries. It will involve 50,000 men, in- cluding the transport workers (but not the rail- waymen) as well as those employed in dairies and in the shipbuilding and building trades, in saw mills, an J. in cement and hoot factories. FRENCH LABOUR SOLID. I The Conference of the French Confederation of Labour has been the subject of many mislead- ing reports, attempting to present a picture of French Labour as either triumphantly reaction- ary and hostile to the British forward movement or else torn by violent internal dissensions. Even on the reports that have so far come through in the French Press it is clear this is not the case. There was a very violent debate between the left wing, who held that the Executive had not fol- lowed a suiffciently revolutionary policy, and had in particular failed to make use of the July situation (the attempted international one-day strike over Russia), and the Executive officials, who argued that the rank and file were them- selves not ready for stronger action. -But in the end a unity resolution wis carried by the im- mense majority of 1,633 to 324, by which the revolutionary aim of the Confederation was re- affirmed, and confidence expressed in M. Jou- haux and the other officials. 1 It is also worthy of note for those who attempt to suggest the opposition of the C.G.T. to the principles; cf In- ternational Socialism that. a resolution of the transport workers wars parsed against handling any goods for Denikin or Koltchak. and also calling for steps to be taken to organist." inter- national action in this matter.

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