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Labour Notes. NO PROFITEERINC IN EXPORT COALI The international joint sub-committee of the Trades Union Congress and the Labour Party, sit its meeting in London last week, considered reports it had received regarding the economic -conditions of Central Europe. The committee adopted a resolution recording its opinion that in Jview of the economic distress in Europe the entire export trade in coal should be placed in the hands of the Supreme Economic Council to ensure the fair distribution of export coal accord- ing to each nation's needs, aind in order to pre- vent profits heing made out of the necessities of the European peoples. COVERNMENT CONSPIRACY REVEALED. In previous notes in this News Service ex- amples have been given from time to time of significant happenings such as the enrolment of professional men als potential strike-breakers, the suppression of the Police Union, and so on :all of them tending to prove the existence of a conspiracy against Trade linion-isni. Labour leaders in the House of Commons have several times during this year been compelled to record their grave suspicion of the Government's atti- tude. This week the cat has been let out of the bag. In his speech at the Guildhall lie sa-id that ever since February the Government has been pre- paring for a fight with the Unions. ow, in view of this statement, it is no longer necessary to prove thait Sir Auckland or Sir Eric -or any ■other Geddes, forced this strike upon the rail- waymen, for it is as as daylight that if the Government beginning in February worked up and perfected a strike-breaking organisation throughout the spring and the summer, it was mevitable that tiiey would force a strike the mo- ment their organisation was complete. It is the fjld argument of armaments over again. If It-lie- (illvernmeot, so to speak, armed themselves to the teeth of prepare for a possible war, it soon became an inevitable war, and from that it was <only a step to choosing the most favourable mo- ment for smashing Trade Unionism. The evidence is too strong to be disregarded, and moderate weekly papers like the "New Statesman," have been forced to the same con- clusion, namely, that ever since the early spring, the Government- of the country was conspiring gainst Trade Unionism and that the railwaymen "Only happen to be the first to receive the attack. STANDARDISATION. 1 l. 1. Negotiations are now to go oil between ine Government and the railwaymen on the question of Standardisation. At the present time there ;are over a hundred grades of railwaymen on each railway, scores of railways, and dozens of •classes within (>anh grade. The result is a mul- tiplicity of wages rates amounting to chaos. The proposal is that conditions sliall he equalised as between* Railway and Railway that the multi- plicity of grades shall be scrapped in favour of .-a few well-marked grades, and that the number -of classes within these grades shall be made as ■small as possible. That is to say, instead of a 'chaos of rates which gave every opportunity for sweating on the part of the less scrupulous rail- way directors, the N. U .R. are now demanding ■an approximation towards equality for men the same work, and are thus moving to- wards the principle of the standard rate. In this demand the good wishes of every Trade "Union that knows t-he value of standard rates goes with them. SHALL SHIPS BE UNCONTROLLED? .1 There is at the momenrta tremendous cam- paign in progress amongst shipowners and Cham- bers of Commerce, who get rid, of even the meagre amount of Government control which is still in existence. Resolutions from Cardiff and the North of England amongst other places ap- pear prominently in The Times" demanding the cessation of all forms of control. This policy should be verv carefully watched by Labour men. The supply of British tonnage is s-till not in the least equal to the demand and the cessation of control means that shipping freights and there- fore shipping profits would immediately rise, if Mot to the scandalous levels of 1916, still to a verv considerable extent. The Times" re- marks that under control some ownerships are placed in a position to eer-n considerably more than others through no merit of their own." Presumably The Times prefers the good old of 1916 when every owner earned consider- ably more than he had any right to expect through no fault of his own, but this is not a position which will recommend itself to Labour )nieii. WHAT ABOUT COMPULSORY ARBITRA- TION? The strike of ironfounders stIll continues, and there is no sign of any weakening on the men's part. It is, however, interesting to notice that the Cleveland Iron Market at any rate is not worried about the strike, for according to "Com- mon Sense," most foundries in that district were working on a very slioi-t supply of pig-iron and -are welcoming the chance of laying up big stocks. This seems to suggest that certain em- ployers deliberately provoked a crisis to suit their own book. Now the employers are ,sug- gesting that they will not concede the men's tie- mands unless the men will submit to compulsory arbitration in the future. This suggestion is also being made by employers in other industries, in fact, in nearly all industries covered by the Wages (Temporary Regulations) Act. This is a move which should be very carefully watched by :all Trade Unionists. OVERTIME BRIBES. The Wooloombing employees are balloting on an offei- made by fTte employers to increase the wages paid in that industry subject to the Unions agreeing to work overtime. The maxi- mum overtime permitted is five hours weekly on the day tum and seven, hours weekly on the j night turn, and any poerative who works up to the maximum of overtime required by the firm is to receive a special bonus in addition to the ordinary overtime rates. The increased wages are to slide up and down according to the Gov- ernment figures, showing the increase in the cost of living and the overtime agreement is to run until the end of September as a minimum. SHARP PRACTICE IN AGRICULTURE. Our readers will remember that rthe negotia- tions of the Industrial Council with the Gov- ernment on the hours question have been hung up for some time, chiefly. because the Govern- ment refuse to include agricultural workers in its Fortv-eight Hour Week Bill. The Agricul- tural Wages Board, however, decided to reduce the labourers' hloursf of work to fifty in summer and forty in winter, which was, at all events, something. But now we learn that the farmers are going all out for a strike against this new order, and are even hoping to increase the hours of their workers to the scandalously long ones that were worked before the war. In this they are backed up by no less a person than Lord Lee of Farebam, who, as Mr. Rowland Protliero, made such a mess of the Corn Production Act. The farmers say that they have the support of the Prime Mmiater and the Government in this course, and from all we know of Lloyd George and his supporters it seems only too likely that this is the case.. Certainly it seems only too likely that tkis is the case. Certainly the agn- ,cizituml -unions, who are far stfonger tham they have ever been before, will have something to say to this, but it is a case where the backing of the whole of organised labour will be needed. First, we have the attempt to reduce wages, which led to the railway strike, and now the ta- tempt to increase hours of labour. What has Labour got to say about it ? THE RAILWAY STRIKE AND ITS MORAL. Pne railway istrike-oner of the greatest up- heanlls in industrial matters that we have ever had in this country—has now finished with what on a. balance of considerations must be con- sidered a substantial victory for the men. The issues at stake concerned more than the railway- men. They affected t'he whole of organised la- bour, and had the railwaymen been defeated it would have meant a reduction sooner or later of wages in every trade. The facit that the reduc- tion could not have taken effect for several months does not matter; the principle of reduc- tion would have been settled once and for all. It is now necessary for the other unions to con- sider very seriously their own position, particu- larly in view of the coming to an end of the Wages (Temporary Regulation) Act next month. It is clear that every union must be prepared to put the utmost pressure on the Government to extend that Act for at least another period of twelve months. Besides this, the unions are beginning to realise that the con- solidation of war advances into permanent wage rates must be. accomplished without delay. In this connection it is well to note that the cost of living is not likely to fall in the immediate future, but that, on the contrary, the Ministry of Food states with conviction that it is bound to rise. WHY CLOTHING IS DEAR. I In spite of the recent hints 111 the Press that the prices of clothing were coming down, textile companies are still enjoying a re-cord boom. Ac- cording to Mr. Frederick W. Tatersall (says The Financier") a table of fifty reports of Lancashire cotton-spinning companies s'hows that all the companies have made a distribution to shareholders, and in no case has the dividend been less than 10 per cent. One company has paid a dividend at the rate of 120 per cent., and anot her at the rate of 80 per cent. Three con- cerns (have paid 40 per cent., five 30 per cent., three 2o per cent., twenty-three 20 per cent., six 15 per cent., and eight 10 per cent. These figures reveal an. astonishing .state of prosperity, but they do not seem to exhaust the resources of these fortunate companies, for we read that. in addition, certain companies are paying calls out of past profits. For instance, a bonus call of 20s. a share is being paid by the Haugh Mill at Newliey and t'he New Ladyhouse Mill at Milnrow, whilst the Newhev Ring Mill is increasing its paid-up capital by 30s. a share out of profits. And finally, in case we should be inclined to think that these figures are exceptional., we are assured that, although those are probably the best figures ever recorded, it is expected that they will be exceeded by the companies that take stock at the end of December. RESTRICTION OF OUTPUT. It is not often that we come across such a naive revelation of the uses of restriction of out- put as this we quote from the annual report of the Anglo-Java Rubber and Produce Company: Owing to the large reduction of output in con- sequence of the oompany's ",adhesion to the Rub- ber Growers' Association scheme for restriction of rubber production for the year 1918, and the Ion prices ruling during this period, the direc- tors regret that they are unable to recommend a dividend." For the previous year the total dividend was I Ii} per cent., and at first we are inclined to sympathise with the shareholders. But the Chairman has a word of comfort for them. He offers them a. substantial bonus, equal to 20 per cent., and holds out hope of an interim dividend in the near future. So perhaps they will not have long to wait before the far-sighted policy of their directors begins to bear fruit in the shape of higher prices and higher dividends than before. TRADE UNIONISM IN GIBRALTAR. I A mass meeting of workmen in Gibraltar have voted unanimously in favour of forming a branch of the General Workers' Union, with a view to undertaking a campaign to increase wages, reduce the cost of living and improve their economic status. The movement was started by a deputation' of tihe Gibraltar work- men who were sent to London to enlist the help of the Workers' Union. They interviewed Mr. George Dallas, and he arranged for one of the Union organisers, Mr. Gilecl to visit the Rock. There are about 12,000 workers in Gibraltar, English and native, and the new branch will be open to both without any colour bar or any sort of inequality as between the races. In Gibraltar the cost. of living is a.s high as in England, and the workers are further penalised by the low rate of exchange for English money, in which their wages are paid. Attention is also to be given to the excessively long hours worked by s'hop assistants, and it is hoped to get the civil servants to join the Union. WHAT THE BELGIAN MINERS WANT. I The miners of Belgium, at their national con- gress in Brussels, have declared strongly in fa- vour of mines nationalisation. They have de- manded that the Government shall make no new conwssions or allow any extension of existing mining areas, and shall as speedily as possible nationalise the two new coalfields of Camping and Hainaut, with compensation, for the owners they proposed the setting up of a system of ad- ministration composed of representatives of the State, the consumers and the miners. The con- gress also demanded a minimum wage, and eight- hour day, amd pensions for aged miners. It was decided to ballot the miners on the question of a general strike in November, if these demands were not conceded. Delegates advocated a new fca-m of strike, proposing a. suspension of work on Mondays and Tuesdays in each week instead of a general stoppage.

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