Skip to main content
Hide Articles List

6 articles on this Page

Thoughts on the Trade Union…

News
Cite
Share

Thoughts on the Trade Union Congress. The Congress was held in the Memorial Hall, London, on June 30, to consider matters aris- ing out of the war. Mr H. Gosling opened the proceedings at 10 a.m. by congratulating Mr C. W. Bowerman, M.P.—the Secretary of the Parliamentary Committee—upon his having become a Privy Councillor, and called upon Mr Fred Bramley to move the first resolution, which dealt with the regulation of food and fuel prices, and called for Government control of merchant shipping and food supplies. Bram- ley, in a short plain speech, proved the ex- ploitation in which shipping rings, colliery com- panies and truck owners have indulged, which has sent the cost of living up 60 per cent., and reduced the purchasing power of a sovereign to 12/7. After this resolution had been briefly seconded the first amendment was moved by J. Wignall (Dock, Wharf and Riverside Work- ers), who wished to insert "ownership" into the sub-section of the resolution asking for con- trol of merchant shipping. The argument was that only by Government ownership could ef- fective control be established. This was opposed on the grounds that Government departments were harder to move than private employers, and that nationalisation, with the present class in power, would not benefit the wage worker. On a card vote, the amendment was carried by a small majority. Next, an addition was made to the resolution asking that speculation in foodstuffs should be made illegal. The provision of allotments was turned down as being a less immediate need; but the addition dealing with the need of an adequate milk supply was accepted by the Congress. No one could be found to move the next proposed addition, which suggested in- creasing the proportion of Labour in the Cab- inet experience has proved the folly of putting a good apple into a basket of bad ones in the hope of curing them. Robert Williams (Transport Workers) moved the next addition, which urged the Trade Unions, if the Government did not move, to take immediate steps to protect themselves. He deprecated the passing of resolutions if they were not followed by action, and forecasted yet higher increases in the cost of living. If the profiteers' gams were taken they would soon adopt the I.L.P. attitude on the war. and he advocated diligent action by the Trade Un- ions to make the wages follow the prices in spite of the warnings and lectures of the Board of Production. —Bellamy (N.U.R.), Gos- sip (Furnishing Trades) and Dubery (Fawcett Association) spoke in support of the addition, an Jrurnished more evidence of the exploita- tion which is being felt very keenly in many quarters. The addition was agreed to.—Smillie (M.F.G.B.) moved the last sub-section of the resolution dealing with the necessarv amend- ments of the Coal Prices Limitation Act, This Act only permits pit-mouth prices, the retail- ers are untouched and the ooalowners refuse to sell direct, and thus evade the Act. The next resolution dealt with a demand for an increase in the Old Age Pensions. It was moved by G. H. Smith (Miners). Mr McKenna says that the case is not yet made out for an increase, and refuses to spend the cost of two days of the war in raising the pensions the 50 per cent, asked for; whether or no be will be made to change his mind remains to be seen. The No. 3 Resolution was moved after the dinner interval, at 2 p.nv., by W. Mosses (Smel- ters) and it dealt wth the setting up of a Special Court of Appeal to deal with the appli- cations of Trades Unions on behalf of their offi-I cials and members. The Parliamentary Com- mittee of the Trades Union Congress secured the exemption of many Trades Union officials, and bv setting up this Court of Appeal these exemptions would be continued and victimisa- tion prevented. This, with some minor addi- tions, was eventually carried. The fourth resolution was moved by Hill (Boilermakers), and it called upon the Gov- ernment to deal with the menace of Industrial Conscription contained in the Military Service Act and other measures.—This was seconded by J. H Thomas (N.U.R.), who told how the em- ployers and the G.P.O. were dismissing unat- tested men to make them liable to military service.—Jin amendment was moved by Smith (Vehicle Workers) to pledge the Congress to use every means at its disposal to get the Acts repealed; beoause, while, the-v remained. In- dustrial Conscription was inevitable. The dis- cussion was short and lively, and "the patrio- tic dodge" was worked with due effect, and the amendment was defeated by a large majority. Mr W. Thorne moved the next resolution dealing with the Conscription of Wealth, and calling upon the Government to introduce a Bi!l for that purpose. It is rather likely that Baal will be asleep when this call is made upon! him: but, never mind, it is a good resolution. The last resolution was moved by Smillie and dealt with the position of boys of 18 years of age under the Military Service Act and asked that no boy under 20 should be sent out of this country by the military authorities. The mover made it clear that he wosald have liked something stronger, and he quoted the serv- ice ages in other countries to prove that 20 was early enoguh for foreign service, and he spoke of the loss which would result from the broken education of young persons. The resolu- tion was agreed to and the Congress dis- persed. The Parliamentary Committee will in due time present the resolutions to the Prime Minister, and attempt to bring them into the House of Commons. The first impression of the Congress is one of disappointment. The giant Labour is not yet awake to the gathering dangers, though the awakening is slowly coming. Smillie remark- ed that "Governments are squeezable"; but the Trade Union movement, with its present outlook, its desire to win the war and its fear of creating a division in the country, is unable to become a Government squeezer, and the profiteers—who are not troubled with such scruples—will continue their extortions, for, if they cannot make unlimited profits under the British flag, they will fly another above their ships, or seek investments for their capital abroad. In replying to some. criticism of the Parlia- mentary Committee, Mr Bowerman remarked that they (the P.O.) could not give exemptions; the decision rested with a higher power than theirs. The Labour Movement will reach a stage in its history when it will scorn "higher powers and be a law unto itself, and when it is reaching that stage its leaders will not receive Cabinet positions, or be made Privy Councillors, or speak of "higher powers" in reverential tones. The opposition to nationa- lisation and the growing disbelief in the theory that a rise in wages must mean a rise in the cost of commodities, indicate the growth of new theories. The apologist economists declare that the worker is in a tt VICIOUS circle, and if he gains increased wages, he has to pay them away in the increased cost of living be- cause the capitalist raises the price of his pro- ducts to the same extent. This fallacy assumes that the capitalist can raise the price of his commodity at will, which he cannot, and that the price is determined by the wages paid. and it entirely fails to explain why the em- ployer resists a demand for increased wages. There was ample evidence given at the Con- gress to prove that while wages had remained stationary, price had risen, and that instead of wages causing prices to rise, the raised prices made necessary higher wages, and the Congress was right in refusing Air McKenna's vicious circle," and in demanding that wages should follow prices. Sooner or later this antagonism of interest, which is rapidly growing, will over- come the reluctance of the unions to create a division in the country, and they will find that pious protests are of no use unless they are prepared to enforce them, and when the Gov- ernments of the world see that the patriotic blinkers are being removed from the eyes of I the working-class, they will soon discover the \,}{ way to an honourable peace with the enemy fr outside, in order to fight the enemy inside their borders. The Congress on Saturday pro- ved that such a time has not yet arrived. While the Congress is useful in voicing the opinion of the Trade Union movement, and through its Parliamentary Committee has un- doubted inflence upon legislation, it is without the necessary unity and power to enforce its decisions. It is composed of about 600 deleg- ates. from about 200 unions, repmsenting 2,700,000 members; and this is a mixed mass, a loose association of craft and industrial, local and national, and great and small Unions and Federations. How can the M.F.G.B. with I its 600,000 members form a united policy and J take a common action with the Jewish Bakers" j with its 500 members, or with the BargE | Builders with its 380 members P The Triple Al- [ liance is surely a more effective fighting force, in which Unions, before joining, must put mat- ters right within their own ranks amalgama- i tion and unity, within the industry must first be secured and unity must begin at the base. before it reaches the summit. Only when the Labour movement is thus transformed will it be abie to act as well as talk, and then it will be feared instead of honoured by the ca- pitalist class, and the haves," the consumers of surplus value, will be disturbed in their 80111", and the restitution of stolen property will be begun. To the Dav' I M.S. I

Gorseinon Notes.

Tonyrefail Notes.

I Ynysykwl and District Notes.…

Advertising

i - - -I !IAn Open Letter…