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ILW A YS, RAILWAYMEN, and…

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ILW A YS, RAILWAYMEN, and LLOYD GEORGE J By F. W. Jowett. I The weapon of a strike, effective against in- dlVlduaJ employers, is a weapon not suited for Sjnployment against the State," says the Daily t ronide," The reply to this observation is of old. In the first place the railways a.re hither owned nor managed by the State. In tile second place if they were owned and man- ^ged by the present capitalist state the workers  the railways might even then have to resort to a strike on occasions because a capitalist gov- ^"iime.nt regards tihe workers from the same nt, of view as railway managers sees them. tiS is only what might be expected considering thit-t capitalist governments and railway Rectors are of the same classâthe class which deals with Labour as a commodity to be bought ar,(l sold at its price in the market. lu order to understand how far it is from the trit-t.1, to suggest that the railways are being run bY the State it is-well that we should recall what tÃppenoo concerning the railways. in 1914, and he effect of the arrangements then agreed upon \th regard to the railways for the duration of e War. It is necessary that bhis point should made clear, because, in pretending that the Present strike is directed against the State, the "apllalit enemy, its Government and its press, **k not only to prejudice the men's case by SuKgesting that they fought against the com- munity, but seek also to discredit public owncr- allip on the ground that it foments strikes. What happened in 1914 when it became neces- ?'y to move large bodies of troops and muni- l ?on'< of war was that it was decided, at once, ?i?; ?!<t the different railway companies could not 4'?' treated with separately in dealing with the r^LUiivments of the Government. Compelling lt-erest.s had to be set aside for the vital con- sideration was to get the men and the muni- to the appointed place in the shortest pos- sible time, no matter which company's line had be used for the purpose. It was also found ^possible to keep accounts crediting each com- pany witih its share of the work done for the government. In s hort, the railw ay system of the country was in such a state -of chaos, its service wai- so u;i.-tetui i>f energ.vvirnrt Tl^<">urctv> and its method of charging for services rendered Was -so jfaried and senseless, that there was possible but to treat the whole of the railway companies as if they were one so uas Government traffic was concerned. This stVP should have involved nationalisation of the always, but. neither the Government nor the railway companies wanted nationalisation. l To avoid nationalisation of railways--and deli- cately with that objectâthe Government con- nived at the formation of a railway executive, imposed of managers of different railway com- ities, to allocate Government traffic between the various companies and to protect the inter- ,4ts of the companies during the period of the Y-V* Tliis Railway Executive is, in fact, a syn- dicate of railway owners. To make sure that t.hhl' Government would act dn the interests of the railway syndicate in so far as Government! '{,('tion might be necessary or called for, a rail- WiAy magnate, closely associated with the syndi- cate, has Imh»ii -given oiffce in the Ministry where lie acts as janitor, for the railway interest in Particular a nil in general for the interests of l'npi tacH st profiteering. It is, therefore, a rail- way syndicateâand a railway syndicate which is exceptionally strong because it has a representa- tive in the Government on whom the Prime Minister depends for hrs information and from whom the Prime Minister apparently takes his â¢. orders--that the railway men struck against. â and not against the State. E l. To avoid the insuperable difficulty of keeping Recounts relaiting to the cost of carriage of Gov- ernment traffic the railway syndicate agreed With its janitor in the Government to keep no Account of carriage ("barges on account of Gov- ^nniem traffic on condition thai; the Govern- ment guaranteed to pay cadi railway company whatever sum of money might be necessary to Enable it to declare profits Juring the war equal to its pre-war profits. This arrangement when It was made by the railway syndicate on behalf V? the companies was regarded as a good bargain for â them, but at that time the war had not de- Veloped opjioi'tui'ities for profiteers such !S for- pi.-olit,(?ers ?,licii I's iviii-,tble i.n One important effect of the bargain between the Governmeixt and the railway syndicate (i.e.. to assess the payment- due 011 account of Govern- ment traffic at whatever sum might be required to pay pre-war railway profits) has been to (*nable the syndicate to be generous to its friends. the profiteers, at the public expense. At the- isame time the syndicate has taken the op- Portunatv, which removal of com petition afforded to it, of withdrawing facilities for cheap travel- ling than the public previously 'possessed. Cheap ^xctisions linvc been abolished and third-class faro. have he-en increased by 50 per cent., but the proportion bet-ween the charges for tirst- t'lass fa res ami third class fares has been re- duced I I Iflvolll. of the first-class passenger. The Profiteers have been lavishly favoured by the Syndicate, for, although the cost of carriage of goods has increased enormously during the war and traders have all along IK-ollill-L" enor- mous profits, they have been and to this day are grill being charged a.t the sa.me rates tor car- riage of their goods as they paid before the war. The cost of ^his glTllt concession throughout the war must amount to an -enormous sum, and this fact ,should not be overlooked in relation to the attempt by the railway syndicate to reduce the poorer paid mvrkers1 wages below the 1914 level O-s soon as prices fall below 110 per cent, over pre-war prices. Fortunately, the railway syndicate has failed to accomplish its purpose, for the present- al- though Mr. Lloyd George ustxl all his well-known dexterity in favour of the syndicate for more than a week. He did his best to beat the workers and failed. Now that the first skirmish is over and the railway syndicate has failedâand I re- peat the qualifying words "for the present there is a disposition to say complimentary things of Mr. Lloyd George, but they are un- deserved. Mr.. Lloyd George took his instruc- tions from Sir Eric Gedde-s as long as he dared to do so. During the protracted interviews lie deliberately dodged the questions at issue. One point, in particular, he evaded, which is still left open, for there is, even yet, no promise tha.t the reduction to the 40 minimum will not take place when prices fall below 110 per cent, above pre-war level, although if prices should go down to 100 per cent, above pre-war level, the 10 minimum will only then be equivalent to the pre-war wage of JC1 per week. « Furthermore, when the negotiations ceased and the strike was declared Mr. Lloyd George issued his infamous manifesto in which he al- leged that the railwaymen were acting under the influence of anarchists.. He knew when lie penned his manifesto that the allegation was dn- true. The sole object of the allegation was to prejudice public opinion against the men. Even more dastardly were the costly advertisements which, with deliberate) cunning, were framed to create the impression that the railwaymen had been offered a minimum of 40 in pre-war value. This effect was obtained by stating that the 40/- minimum was guaranteed even if prices were to fall to the pre-war k-vel. It was a worthless pledge because it is perfectly certain that prices will not go back to. the pee-war level. The point of real importance, viz., that the 40/- minimum would have applied if prices were 100 per cent, or even 109 per cent. above pre-war level was deliberately left immentiowd in the advertise- ment. There was aho a Government statement issued which made it appear that the railway- men were asking for terms which would add .C14,000,000 to the present amount of their total wages when as a matter of fact what the rail- Vavmeri was asking umolllltt.d to little more than that their present wages should be continued. 1 The ad vertisements containing statements which were to all intents and purposes lies were inserted in the newspapers by the Government, but they bore no impnnt to make the Govern- ment responsible for them. The Government was willing to publish untruths and to pay out of the public funds the cost of publication, but lies published in the manner described can be repudiated in case of need for, like Mr. Bullit's mission to Russia, they can be described a3 li iinofficiil." For all this Mr.. Lloyd George is primarily responsible. Behind him, of course, there is, as usual, Big Business, whose servant he is now and always was, since the day he be- came a member of the C-ampbell Bannerman Governmentf out teen years ago. < It is not the fault of Mr. Lloyd George that the men have not been compelled to go back to their work unconditionally as he said they would have to do. Nor is it due to him that the "de- finitive" offer which he tried to foist on the men has had to be first amended and then con- verted into an offer to be negotiated upon. The poorly paid workers (on the railways have at all events secured an assured minimum of 51/- a week for the next twelve months. This will help other workers during this period to main- tain also their position. But for this, as for the other things here mentioned it is not Mr. Lloyd George, but the solid ranks of the r ail way me. 1 whom hp did his utmost to disrupt .and defeat that we owe our thanks.

THE WASHINGTON LABOUR CONFERENCEI

l Workmen's Examiners. I

H. Seymour Berry & The StrikeI

I Merthyr Water -Charges.-I

Rusholme Bye-Election. I

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