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CARMARTHEN I1 UNDER THE |…

The Carmarthen Pulpit.

THE REV GWILYM DAVIES AT THE…

Labour Meeting at Kidwelly.

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Labour Meeting at Kidwelly. ADDRESS BY MR BEN TIL LETT. A well, attended meeting was held in the Town Hall on Saturday last at 7 p.m., when and address was given by Mr Ben Tillett, secretary of the Dockers' Union. Mr Dd. Rowlands presided, and he was supported on the platform by Mr Tillett, Mr W. Pugh, and Mr D. F. Griffiths, Llanelly. The vhairm^n in opening the proceedings expressed his pleasure in being present to hear one of the finest leaders of the Laibour Party, who had risen from the ranks, and whoso record was one of which any man might be proud, From what he had done in the past they could trust him, if his life was spared, to fight many battles in the future. Mr Tillett's health had unfortunately, failed ,and he had had to leave the country for the benefit of the better air of other countries. He had returned greatly benefitted, and he had lost, no time in paying Kidwelly a visit. On behalf of the town he trusted they would give him the best welcome. They were proud of him for having done his best for Labour generally. It was their duty to support the aims of those who were engaged in 'raising theirs. (Mr Tillett had he so desired might have left the Labour party long since, but he had been true to his principles and the great cause (applause). Mr PlJglr was pleased to be present on this his first public meeting at Kidwelly. He hoped it would not be his last. Before he was placed in the official position he to-day occupied he had never dreamt of its import- ance, He had been brought face to face with tlia real difficulties which confronted their leaders. Outsiders thought they could do the work better than those in office, but ho had altered his opinion. With their assistance he would do his best. He would not inflict a speech oil them—they were anxous to hear Mr Tillett—but he would just refer to the danger of the p-osirbion in the industrial world There was the possible lock-out in the coal- field and a threatened dispute in the tin- plate industry. They knpw whpre they were now, but if they embarked in a strike no one could teH what would be their position. A few years ago the tinplaters were wording at a figure far lbelow the '74 list. To-day, the prices were higher than the list. An import- ant gentleman in the tinplate world had told him that they could never have been so suc- cesful had it not íbeen fOf the Conciliation Board. Whih*, during the past 18 months there had W&n depression in most, industries in Great Britain and oil, the Continent, the tinplate industry had escaped. A good many people were of the opinion that this was due to the good feeling existing between the employers and employees. He hoped it was so. Every man woi+ld pray for the arrival of that great day, of which poets had sung, when "Hard times come again no more." They as workmen should use the present machinery to bring about improved condi- tions, 'but he would urgp them all to give of their best so that the works would give the best results (applause). IJe moved that this meeting of Kidwely worikmen hereby pledges themselves io fhe principle of Trade Union- ism and all working clafis orgaaiis^tion^ pro- moting the economic and social interests of the toilers. Mr ift. F. Griffiths seconded. He hoped the meeting -.Woulq do something to promote the unity and .real unionism of workers. Spufgeon hd said "When church and church quarrel the d»vil ckps his hands." He would vary it and say that when the workers quar- relled other devils clapped their hands (laugh ter). Division was the success of the devils in that sense. They had no quarrel with em- ployers per se, nor with capital per se. If there v. a*, lijcik of progress it was due to the workers themselves. 'l'hosti who wRre most strongly opposed to the liberation of the slaves in America were the slaves themselves. He trusted that a meeting of this character would stir up the workers to a state of being divinely discontented, and woujd tgacli them to think more of tiiemsejves. jn tiorseiuoti he had addressed a meeting, and had been interrupted by a niasty sort of working man who wo^ld shout that he was "only?' a work- ing man. Why this ;?only"? As Hllry George said a working man and a poor man were synonymous terms. His advice to those who wished to be rich in the financial sense was '-Don't vor'l;" (laughter). SPEECH BY MR BEN TILLETT. rlfTiUett who was Teceived with loud applause, commenced with "Mr Chairman and Brothers,11 and peierrad to a visit he had I jurt paid to the Old Oastle, where nature had been kind and did all she could to hide ail kinds of ugliness with the green foliage. Many tides had flowed since that old building was erected, and many would again flow before it would- be finally demolished. He coulld picture the Barons in the old days living in that stately old structure. What a taol-e could the walls unfold of jestlings, of love makings, of murderings, etc., and what a scene of bustle had there been with the shrill clarion notes, the -armed men, the lances, the arrows, and other means of war- fare. These castles had played an important part in the history of the nation. Those were times when human labour was property in a different sense from what it was now. Then the workers were serfs or slaves, and had to be maintaiued by the Baron, whether sleeping or waking. Now the worker is paid for the service he renders his master—so many hours, so many days, etc. The exact time of beginning and ending, his work is taken. He is employed to make profit. When his service ends he is cast aside to starve and die. His home may be broken up, and wife and children may have to suffer untold hardships. In the olden days, when there was no fighting to be done, the men were engaged in some peaceful pursuits. The Baro,ns kept the 'best physical type of men, who were maintained as the horse is main- tained to-day. The horse was of more con- sequence to the empl'oyer than was the man. Slavery had been, abolished, but in its place there existed a more sinister form of slavery. If the owner did not look after the horse, it would die, and there was no moral or legal obligation on his part to look after his wel- fare (applause). The workman could starve or die. Though the retainers of the old barons were paid no wa'ges, they were not so badly off, as everything was provided them, and there was no starvation. He (the speaker) felt sure the wives of the working- men would ,not grumble at an arrangement ullider which they were supplied with all they needed (laughter and applause). The other day he discussed the matter of the earnings of the workman with a person who would one day be a duke, and who thought a man might save cut of a wage of j61 a week. He put the question to him Could you keep a family on JE1 a, week ? No doubt he was considered a very imipudentfeillow for asking such a ques- tion to such an exalted person, but he pressed it, and worked it out himself as follows:—Rent 4s, food 12s, then there were clothes and he could save the rest (laughter). The fact of it seemed to be that no man could become rich by working for himself, nor by working for another. The only way to do it was to get others to work for him (applause). The wealth creators did not hold the wealth created. They did not own land, railways, means of transit or of trans- portation, churches gaols, the army or navy, etc., and having none of these they stood in their skins, and all. they had to do was to sell their energy in the best market. Thev could not compete with cattle. The system" under which the products of a locality were ex- changed by the peopPe living in a district had changed. Instead of staying at home and taking his goods to sell he now goes to the factory where he is regulated by the em- ployer. And he takes his service on his hind legs early every morning. In the North even, the wife and children join the husband, and the streets of the town resound with the clatter of the toilers as they make their way, n/Ke cavalry, to the factory. Unless they arrive at the tick of the clock, they are sacked or lose a quarter (lalughter). So a hurried breakfa-st has to be taken, then comes work. then home, then tea, then bed (laughter), and so on day after day with Sun- day's rest sometimes intervening. Man, who was a morally developed, a spiritually beauti- ful Ibeing, intelligent and wise, was expected to do nothing else but work (applause). The workman was too prone to describe him- self as merely a workman. The man who apologised for being a worker M as a slave in has heart a craven, a flunkev! It should be his proud boast (applause). The hands that built that Castle, and that built Kidwelly, Swansea, and the great towns was the same iasi theifrs. Merely a workman! Talk of miracles. The turning of the water into wine was no more marvellous than the miracles performed by such hands as theirs. Their hands worked the materials and moulded them and shaped them into the cities and towns of the world. Their hands built the railways, gathered the metals and wrestled with the elements. Wonderful hands (loud applause). There were people whose greatest boast was that they never worked. Says one of these "Oh! I have never worked my father never worked my mother's father never worked" (laughter), and so. on. These were the idlers and para- sites of Society—the aristocrats. If one of the workers is idle, he is a criminal and is sent to gaol or the workhouse. One thief loafer calls himself a gentleman, the other merely a working man. Why the steamships and every other-'great work were the result of human labour. The wonders of the Arabian Nights were not more wonderful than those created by the Magi of labour. The marvellous genius had conquered mountains, oceans, ay, and the world, but not itself. He had come there to organise the workers, and to get them to realise their faculties and sense of right, to make them recognise a reli- gious sense of their duty to their own class and children. The liberty of attending that meeting that night had been wrung for them- by their fathers, who had endured imprison- ment, bludgeoning, and even the gallows for demanding freedom of speech. As their fathers had made sacrifices for them so they ought to make sacrifices for their children. A child on his father's back can see things his father cannot see. So one generation should eaiiTry the succeeding one on its back so that the next, should have a better exist- ence, something 'better than slavery and black sweating toil (applause). The Trades Unions represented the accumulated effi- ciency of other men gileater than themselves. The nobility and energy of the pioneers were gro,i.t, Some men would not sacrifice 3d to gain a Is. They were more stupid than donkeys, who certainly would, if they under- stood, not mind losing three carrots if they could get 12 in return (laughter). A man's missus would be on his track all day if she could get 3!d for every 3d she could find (laughter). Although the labour organisa- tions had been instrumental in adding mil- lions1 of pounds to the workers- wages, some men were too mean to join a, Union. He believed that some men were so terribly mean that they would be glad to grow warts on their necks in order to save studs (iaugh- ter). The same olass would, if 3d were charged for admission to Heaven, siiuak round Peter to get in on the cheap (laughter and applause). They must realise their obli- gations to themselves and their fello" work- men. Capitalists had organised and Unions of workers followed. In the ea,Plv days there were several, organisations; to-day the ten- dency was in the direction of national and international organizations. The speaker re- ferred to the disappearance of the small trader aind the e-stalblishment of big concerns and to the absorbing of the smaller by the larger banks. Coin did not represent wealth. No capitalist would swop the earth for £ 4()0,()(;(J,()0{). Coin was simply a means of exchange, such as bricks might have been, Fancy a Rothchikl carrying P-50,000,000 worth of brick-dust about with him (laugh- ter). He (the speaker) was an advocate of advanced socialism; of revolutionary social- ism in the sense that he desired the whole condition of society turned topsy-turvy. Instead of the community being owned by a few, the community should own themselves Less than 12 Pei-soiis owned moire than a third of the land. If they all died that night they would not cover the earth. Thov also owned the workers. True they did not make prisons of their homes, chain them up, or force them by soldiers. They knew they would come to work. They had to, or they would starve and die. The means of Jiving should belong to the community and nation, i-rad&s Unions like Capitalist Unions looked after the interests of their members. They, like the employers, would get as much as they could. There was class antagonism. From an economic standpoint they were en- gaged in a class war, awl the results wara more important than those wluci; resulted on the battlefield. Trades Unions were a scien- tific form of protecting the rights of "workers. The conditions of civilization were such that oÍlIv 1 iu 100 lived to 70 years of age, and they the surviVors were given 5s a week for the cheek of having lived so long (laughter). Mr Chaplain, who was a crusted old Tory, was aghast at giving poor people 5s a week at ML It was teaching the working classes to be thriftless'. Chaplain was no joker he was too ponderous for that. And who was he that lie should begrudge the worker his pen- sion f He had a fortune of a quar- ter of a miJlioin and had lived luxuriously all his life. He had spent his money on what they would call "lbooze," but what he would term ivine, and horse racing. He now en- joyed an old age pension of £ 1,200. Ungrate- ful brute! (laughter) But their class were not made in God's mml, image like Chaplain's class, who were of the elect and quite a dis- tinct type from the mere working classes. He wished the Lord would take all the capitalists to heaven to-night. It would be a freer and a happier world. -If they took their money with them he feared it would not stand the climate (loud laughter and ap- plause). It was their duty as men to realise their own worth. Whetn. a man walked the streets lie should remember that they had been laid by his mates, and that the machi- nery, etc., had been made by the hands of his own class. The buildings on every side were monuments to his class. As he walked along with proud steps he should be inspired by the thoughts "My class built all these. my mighty ci/ass, my mightly labouring class" (applause) He should realise that, he is a man. He should not say "Please, sir," for being allowed to live. Why his class made the trains and conducted them in safety through the land. And he was wanted in the Unions. Employers might be in competition with each other, but they all combined against labour. It ""aiSl inevitable that it should be so. Sometimes it w,as said that skilled labour could always command high prices. Never was there a greater fallacy. In the fine lace trade, the manufacture of which necessitated the highest, possible skill, the workers were miserably paid, while in the coarser trade good wages were secured. The fine lace, which the Lady V-ere de Vere took such pride in displaying on her aristocratic shoulders, was made with blood. Its production brought at an early age dimness of sight to the toiler, and well might the article be likened to a funeral shroud. The best broad cloth, which required in its nianufactuire the most 'highly skilled labour, w-as made by men whose wages barely allowed them to live, while the <:> artizans who produced shoddy goods in Yorkshire were far better off. And why? The answer applied to both cases. Wages were low where labour was not or- ganised, and high where men had combined. It was not a matter of skill, but of organisat- tion. The difference between the treatment accorded by a capitalist to a representative of the seller off material commodities, and that to a, representative of* labour was humorously dealt with. In the former case it was a very agreeable meeting ending up with a whiskey and cigars; while in the lat- ter it was cold and ending with a request to the labour man to clear out of the office. "This I do" continued Mr Tillet, "and out go the men with me" (laughter). "They some- times come out when I don't want them to" (laughter). In the second interview there is an altered tone in the greeting and a settle- ment is generally effected. But the repre- sntative of labour Is not given a blessing. The capitalist does not wish him in heaven. The man who endeavoured to obtain for labour its proper value was termed an agita- tor. They were citizens of a noble country, which had the wisest and most democratic laws. They should look upon it as a sacred duty to understand its history and the duties of citizenship. They in Kidwelly were living in a beautiful locality. He noticed they possessed a mayor, and other like oranments of polite society, who had to perform useful and important service. They should take an interest in the local Council. Farmers, tradesmen, landowners, and even parsons, sought representation on such bodies. He wo'uld thank anyone who would look after the workers' interests, but the right people to do so were the workers themselves. Impora-nt matters, such as sanitation and maintaining of proper roads were dealt with by the Town Council, and they ought to take a greater interest in its affairs. They must not think it too smaH a body. London, the biggest corporation in the kingdom was also the most rotten. The Council could do a great deal for the health of the (jomniunity, it could do much for the welfare of their children. He wanted to impress upon them their duty to be good in all spheres, good citizens, good husbands, and good fathers:, and to utilise everything that would enable them to be better men. In order to do this they should send men of their own class to the TownCoun oil. Kidwelly was. not only ancient; it possessed many advantages. If he were a citizen of IGclwellly lie would be as proud as Lucifer (A Voice: Come here and live). They could make Kidwelly anything they wished. "hy not make it a centre for pleasant meet- nigs of happy recreation, of instructive lec- tures, of bathing, of anything that would make their lives nobler and cleaner. Provi. dence had not been unkind, and Nature was prolific in her bounties. They should not gi umble. He could imagine God sayino- in answer to one who complained to Him of hia lo. J have giieii you smiling lands, moim- tains, rills, seas, seasons, day and night, vegetables, minerals, brains, bodies, thought functions, organs, senses. Go back and work" (loud alppllause). The Chairman put the resolution to the meeting and it was carried unanimous-Iv. The Chairman proposed a, vote of thanks to Mr Iillett for bra admirable address. He agreed with the speaker that labour should be re- presented by labour men. He reminded the audience that lie would seek re-election at the November election, when he trusted the laibour Pait.Y would be true to itself. n3'j ,T' iM;anseU seconded, and it was carried amidst applause. Mr Tillett, in responding, expressed a hope that they would be better unionists and bet- tar citizens as a result, of his visit. That would be the best thanks they could give lum. He hoped he would not he so long be- fore paying Kidwelly another visit (applause) A vote of thanks to the Chairman concluded the proceedings, c

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