Permanent link to this item
THE LABOR MOVEMENT, Issue 15708, 23 January 1915
THE LABOR MOVEMENT
[By Vkveh.u;.] Brie) contributions on matters with reference to the Labor Movement are invited. TRADE UNIONS AND THE WAR. At the beginning of the war wc wore I often told that the workers in Great- Bn- ! tain were utterly opposed to England takj ing any part in it. but it was soon shown j by tho thousands that volunteered for the 1 I rout I root the- diiferonl worker.--' erganj isations that th'-.-e statement' were com ; trary to fact. In spite of Tie fact iii.it [ fhe worker-, and e-pccially the unionist.'. i not only in England, hut Lin ough.iut tho : Brili'h Dor,ipti-ji:-, were foremost in offeri ing their services (he German papers, and | also paper- in the neutral Stales of Ett- ; rope. per-iAed tn their statements that the British workers wore opposed to Engj land taking any part in the war. This j led the British Federation of Tratio Unions i to issue a manifesto in their members and ; to the al-iliatiom. in Europe and America. ; from wnich 1 give the following ex i tracts;- - j. “I" Germany an-I in Austria, and ; in the i ion ii a i Sides of Europe end Arne- | nca, persistent attempts are being made j to ill is i (-present !lv riUbmlc of t he"n ril i-h | Labor movemeni towards Tie I bwernmeni ; and toward, the cri-i. through which EuI rope is pas-mg. Extract, iron; speerhes | and cutting, from newspapers are i c-l- ---| luted, and conclusions drawn width cmiI not bo jin tided by facts, ami which do i not represent the real opinion of the BriI tish working-class rnovemcn(. Under .m-h : eircuni'tnnees, an or.gani'ation like the i Genera! i -deration of Trade Unions, winch ! ivprO'-.'iiis, and i. to n great extent interested in Tie financial stability of 1,006 editrade unionist., must- remove all doubt concerning its own position and intention. It cannot- better begin this tad; than Instating that it is. and always Ins been, oil tho s;do oi international a. well as indu-- | trial peace. It lias consistently tried In 1 develop fialernitv between people- of difI fercnl tuition,-dilie-. It eat:;. hUnTim I j itself i- ‘t Aw ict- i national (v - !.. ins n I bated to ([. npke-.’p, and endeic.owd to j extend its influence. With the Genera! | Federation and its members faith in the. j common interests of working; hnmaniU . I and determination to advance them, was | warm and strong, while the po-dbilitv of j war was regarded ns one i pgnrds the I shadow of an indescribable eirtnstrophe. The Federation entertains no delusion, concerning tho consequences of sear, or tho share of these which the class it. represents will bear, and in placing its po.-itinn before <he world it is actual'd oidv by the desire to prevent misapprclicn.ion, am! to secure effective national ami ordered consideration of all those interests ii, directly or indirectly represents. To fully analyse and tli-c t.s Lite cause, of the war and the rcspoi.i'ibihty lor it. outbreak is beyond the intention oi the Management (Jommittee. Nuliicient for tint moment to say that, in the opinion of millions of trade unionists, the responsibility for the war does, not rest upon the policy or conduct of Groat Britain. This opinion is supported from our own side by documentary evidence, ami by the met of our own tmprcparediK :■>, and from the opposing side by the utterances of their soldiers, their statesmen, and their teachers, and by their terrible and immediate, capacity for striking c-lfeelive and terrorising blows. Of this capacity to strike, the Press of the world has. since the beginning of August, borne daily testimony. Tho intention to strike whenever ami wherever oppo* limit/ offered has been openly and generally expressed, and was facilitated by the fact that tho German army is, in effect, always mobilised.”
I The manifesto then gives several ex- ; tracts from the German Press to show ! that for a long time Germany has been planning and preparing for this war, and continues :—" It is obvious that the iimocdidte participation of Urilain in the war was neither dedred nor expected; her I day would gladly have been postponed, i Loyalty to herself, to her best traditions, and to her treaty obligations made abstention, from the conflict impossible, and today Iter people, especially her workpeople, arc determined to support not only tho neutrality of heroic Belgium, but tho honor of nations and the inviolability of treaties. One" involved in such a war, the duty of the movement stood out clearly. It became necessary, apart from all personal considerations of friendship, to offer the fiercest resistance to the aggressor, and to make any sacrifice, necessary to bring tho war to a definite and honorable- conclusion, to join with others in malting the fullest provision for this policy, to see that the political circum- ' stances arising were used to develop and broaden national lifo and outlook, and particularly to insist that the economic and moral disabilities of war should not fall altogether on the shoulders of the poor. A real lovo of country inspired the leadors o£ tho people to ask of the manhood they represented the greatest of all sacrifices.' In acting so there was no desire to arouse or develop racial animosities, but there was a general determination to prevent in litis country the outrages on women and children, and the massacres and burnings which have desolated both Belgium and Northern. France." Then it goes on to deal iviih tho economic aspect of the war and its effect upon the future Government of the country :—" Not less imperative titan tho problems of national defence are those problems which affect the political and economic lifo of the Stat© during the war, and j which will continue to affect it long after tho war is- over. 'ike. consideration of these docs not imply hostility or lack of patriotism; it simply indicates foresight and a desire to turn the. extraordinary circumstances of the war to national account. Some of the problems which affected transport and tho public services have been dealt with on communal lines. Under the stress of war, the Government assumed control of the railways and fixed minimum food prices; tho impossibilities of veavs became actualities in an hour when the alternative was national disaster. 'The lessons learned, in the hour of danger must not be lost, but improved upon, and return to anarchic methods must be- strenuously fought. If railways can be nationally and effectively controlled, coordinated, and worked, under abnormal war conditions, they cm be so dealt with under the easier conditions obtaining in times of peace. War has compelled the Government to give practical effect to the admission long made verbally, that the State was responsible for the physical efficiency of its units, and measures of relief have" neon planned. '1 he Management Committee are certain that the««o measures are altogether inadequate, and cannot meet the (situation. The Management Committee ab.o insist that works of relief must bo also works of utility. Nothing i-,r, dis.courae.es men as to find that their work is without intrinsic value - H ug( , ; nothing f> infects so-called 'relief with the taint of pauperism. The. pamphlet on ' Unemployment,' published by the Management Committee in 1911, suggests examples of useful and co-ordinated work. The Government have paid for the material things they required for tho war, they have extended their financial assistance and credit to banks and private concerns, and they would act illogically if they hesitated to meet the demand for payment for that human clement, without which States cannot exist or wars be made. Surely if the human element voluntarily places itself at the service of the States it is the duty of any Government to pay for this at leapt as falrlv as they paid for their coal and. corn. Great Britain is the richest country on earth, yet she largely depends upon ciiaritv for lite care and comfort of her '.discharged soldiers and ,-ailors. '['he I effort, yet made in this direction is totallv inadequate; even the Prince of I Wales, fund, large as it .seems to the I thoughtless, can only relieve a tithe of the I distress which already exists. _ In this war I the men at the top of the social scale have j given their lives freely, and it would be i ungenerous not to give credit for, and ex- ' press appreciation of, their gallantry and self-sacrifice. The workman, too, at the i call of Ilia country has left his job a.nd his home, ami is doing his share, ami
percentage of the comfortable’ cities whose main contributions during this crisis havebeen in the nature of criticism and advice. U is these who must- bo made to contribute. and to contribute regularly and in proportion to means. If one-half of last year’s commerce could bo exacted by means of a special income tax the totals of all the voluntary funds would bo inistantly eclipsed, and the. basis of a practicable fund provided. It is necessary at oade to withdraw from the realm of I chanoo and charity the interests of the ! soldier anil his dependents. For ages i writers and pucks have joined in .singing ' the praises of soldiers, extolling their sao- ; i ;li,‘i s, and glorifying their prowess. ;iihave clinngcd, and to-day there is a : i.abui' movement, dissatisfied with mere j vocal elfort and strong enough, and also : wi.-.i: enough, to sec that- the soldier re--1 reives more than adnlation in li!e and ’ i;t.ure!s in death. To leave him or his doj p outlet!ts to the c-ar-e of charity is un- | worthy of a great nation. Inquisitorial j methods and voluntary effort imist, give i place t-o specific scales of pay and proper I public vSt-ale- control. . . . The c-o-or- ; qiuaiion of existing charities .and relief 1 funds is imperative. Already in London ' much lias been done, to prevent the waste and overlapping consequent upon the muli tiplicity of ■:aganisa-tions, but much re- | mains to be done, and it will be done bc-te Mm- and more svmputneiicaliy it ovga mead L->h,.r < o-o|,;•) atcs. Amongst- tin* voluuta:\ aw-:icia ti- 11 which may justly demand . i-.i'sitic.-.U-i. n at (he moment the trade- ; imams slr.i.d |n e-ctniiirnl. .Some have ; made maunilie-nil etiorls to meet the dis’U. s.; com-v-pc:;! upon n m?ni|)loy men I. but i they cannot ijnleiiititdy continue their disj 1,-ursemems. The contributions and henc- ! li's v.', p cal-ida:cd on a- peao> basis. They I never altempted to secure, nor could they | hiivc secured had the- attempt been made, ] cntili ibtuio.is equal to the requirement* I developed by a great war. The collapse of | t licit- i :f .its would menu more than trade ’union humiliation and bankruptcy; it | would mean national disaster, Subsidies I .have already been promised and given. ■ These must be extended and increased, and ] whrrover trad'- unions havo securities not I ■ asily r. a livable these- should be taken | i uvr, e. hero reqitc.-t- is made. by the | S’,no. and the unions giwn tile equivalent. I in iash. rite .-ieknefs. and dk-nblt ment i which wtll foliow upon the, war must disluri) the actuarial equilibrium of most approved societies, and these should combine to secure themselves from tho disaster v.. ti.-li threatens unless tho State shoulders at least that part of the burden arising j fiom the war. In tho furtherance of all I tii-’s-e objects, tho Management Committee tiro prepared to act with all the. force and influence a.t their command, and they invite the co-operation of all persons or organisations who desire to realise (lie objects set for; lt. In explaining their posi- : lion and advancing the claims of the i pc:pic they wish to avoid the folly of the i Chauvinist- and the meanness of the ineri chant "ho haggles while dcailt waits at ’ ihe doer; they speak only in the dis--1 charge of their duty, and they are certain of j ihe co-operation of those who wore respouI ,-jh'c for th- ir election. They do not overI look their obligations to the workers in i other lands, and they hope- that with the j destruction of tho Prussian militarist caste, | which for 40 years has worked for war, iui t-r-rnatioanl friendships and efforts may be | renewed bin for tho moment their whole dtitv lies at. homo.”
The manifesto is signed by the 16 members of tho Management Committee, roproBcntincr nil classes of workers Speaking at Gorton (Kngland) recently, Mr O. H.'Poborts, M.P.,"referred to the statement, oflc.i made, that tho British Labor party ought to have prevented the war. Tho" Labor r ,art J'.> " esaul > v '' oll!J have prevented war if the Labor movements .in other countries had been equally animated to avert it. Ho believed the was wae inevitable, and no single Power on earth could have averted it, and he was net prepared to stand still while military Powers were actively engaged in walking over tis. It waa thought tlrat 4.000,000 people, by voting for tho Social Democrats at the' last election for the Reichstag, would have guaranteed peaco. If those people were a-gainat war they could have, prevented it. Give him 4.0G0.0C0 votes in this country and ho would overthrow the strongest military cast© and effect a change in tho constitution of the country. He was of opinion that the German people, not excepting the Social Democrats, were whole-hearted in this business, because they believed in German, culture, German civilisation, and Gorman world dominion.
.Mr J. Ji. Thomas, M.P., secretary of the British Railwayman's Federation, speaking at a- recruiting meeting, said : *• If tho German licet will not fight, I hope bhere will be no settlement winch does not provide for tho sinking of the whole of that fleet. Moreover, the final settlement must dispose of the bugbear of bloated naval armaments for ever.” Railwaymen had their particular grievances. “But this was not the time to ventilate them. To-day all parties must unite; there must be no politics, and the one aim must be for tho victory of Great Britain. Tho war must bo waged in such a way and to such a- conclusion as would make war in the future absolutely impossible.” # ■s£■ & NOTES. Tho following advertisement ap p-wircd last mouth in Die London papers ; “ Hoctor’s wife, middle aged, will undertake to perform the work of any tramway conductor, coachman, shop assistant, or other married worker with children, provided that worker will undertake to enlist and light for his country in her hour oi need. Ail wages earned will be paid over to the wife and family,'’ ■it -xDeath has levied a heavy toll recently amongst Labor members of the Australian Federal Parliament. Mr Batchelor, .Mr Frazer, Mr Roberts, Mr Arthur—-all of whom were comparatively young men — died recently, and Senator M‘Gregor, more advanced in years, died immediately prior to tho recent Federal election. .And on January 1, 1915, Mr E. F. G. Jolly, Labor member for Grampians, who was elected for the first time at the end oi last year 1 , died at the early age of 40 years'. Mr Joint Louis Trefle, .Minister of Lands in the New South Wales Labor Government, died on Monday, January .11, 1915. •» * The West Australian Parliament opened with 26 Labor' and 24 Liberal members. The Labor Government is, therefore, carrying on with a. majority of two. This is dose pegging. * # * The industries most affected in England as a result of the. war, and which consequently aro those in which there is most unemployment at present, are tho printing trade and textile manufactures. * * * Trades unionism in Australia (according to figures issued by the Commonwealth Statistician} has gripped the workmen to the extent of 89 to every 1,000 inhabitants, thus creating a. record for the world. Great Britain occupies second place with 71 trade unionists to every I.COO of the population, and Germany third with 65. New Zealand is fourth with a proportion of 56, and Denmark fifth with 50. Rumania occupies the last place, with but one trade unionist, per thousand of the inhabitants. As regards the actual number of trades unionists. Gcnuany conn-.s first with 4,275,000, followed in order by Great Britain with 5.246.C00, United States 2.550.CC0. and France 1,499,000. Australia has 433,000.
THE LABOR MOVEMENT, Issue 15708, 23 January 1915
Use these buttons to limit your searches to particular dates, titles, and more.
Print, save, zoom in and more.