IRISH TRADE UNION CONGRESS
From Our Special Correspondent It was gratifying to see the number of Christian principles -if sometimes in a slightly garbled form and proposed from merely utilitarian motives—that were enumerated at the Irish trade union con gress at Derry, at which 200 delegates from the 32 counties were present, last week.
There could be no improvement in the world ecoaomic situation, Mr. R J. Cairns declared in his presidential address, unless
a genuine attempt was made to Christianise industry and commerce. Without that
change there was no hope for the millions of unemployed or underpaid. The Free State has absorbed some unemployed in new industries, but the advance was offset by increasing population. New industries alone could not solve the problem.
He condemned child labour, with which he said e.e new creations in industry had been mainly staffed. as well as the lack of control of monopolies in the interests of the state and the workers.
Unemployment, he said, had not decreased in the Six Counties, and the new British Act had made the lot of the unemployed there worse than ever.
He advocated the establishment of a state bank, whose policy should be guided by a banking council.
The congress also called on the Free State to institute an economic planning commission: ta) To organise the unemployed Into groups suitable to industrial and agritural works in the various areas.
(h) To plan works of afforestation, main drainage, main .oad reconstruction.
(c) To start self-sustaining groups on the land, composed of voluntary workers front among the unemployed, under the awls 01 the economic planning commission following consultation with the government, national education authorities and the national executive of Congress.
(d) To empower he economic planning commission compulsorily to acquire at nominal compensation the 3,000,000 acres of hog. marsh and 1710141,fain at present unused and proceed to .create state forest thereon.
A resolution was carried " that this congress, having regard to the continued improvement in the machinery ef production whereby greater leisure should accrue to those engaged in industry. calls upon the government of Saorstat Eireann and the government of Northern Ireland to promote, by legislation or otherwise, a maximum 40-hour and/or five-day working week without any reduction in wages.'
The time had come, it was said, when workers would need, not more work but more leisure, and they might be demanding not a 40-hour week but a 25-hour week. Many workers, old and weak, had the shadow of destitution hanging over them, but had to go on. Children were taken from school before the leaving age without any hope of employment in later life.
Many speakers also psinted out that Women were competing unfairly in industry, and seoke in favour of the present Free State bill to restrict their activities.
Irish Labour has still many things to team. The poverty of the many is not
due to mechanisation. but to t usurpation by a few individuals of the fruits of the inventions which in justice are the property of every citizen. An economic planning commission only tries to stave off the effects without removing the causes. It is a vague gesture without any suggestion of how it is to be financed or how it is to give more than temeerary alleviation. A state bank, without far more drastic revision of monetary matters considered unnecessary by the Congress, is of little if any value.
And it is deplorable that a representative public man and a Catholic should be allowed to state without a word of protest that sectarianism -'as a characteristic of the middle ages.
If the Labour movement knew a little about the middle ages, about their teaching on monopolies and undercutting, their price fixing provisions, their regulation of conditions of work, their just wage, their trade unions, in fine, their sense of proportion, it might be able to enlarge its vision and its intelligence to the understanding of causes and declare a programme of Christianisation of industry and commerce (in the words of the presidential address).
It is only fair to state that the vicepresident of the Federation of Saorstel industries categorically denied the charge " that in most of the industries the new creations have been staffed mainly by child labour," and called on the congress to prove or withdraw it.
Dr. Ryan, Minister for Agriculture, stated in the Senate on Thursday that 1,000 cattle were used per week for free beef; 20,000 to 25,000 would be needed weekly for the canning factory at Waterford; 1,200 old cows for the Roscrea fac
able for human consumption, which is converted into meat-meal, tallow, &e. Upwards of 30 men are already at work. Two other factories opened last week were the Dunlop rubber factory at Cork and the Arldow pottery factory, already employing over 200 hands.
Victimisation of Catholics and religious persecution is not on the wane in Belfast;
it is becoming worse. a friend of mine learned from the Bishop of Down and Connor during the week. Orange leaders are not yet satisfied with the work done.
Sen. Porter Porter said publicly: "There is no such thing as law and order in the Free State, and nothing prevails there but murder, robbery and distarbance."
Dr. Gregg, Protestant Archbishop of Dublin, refuses to recognise this situation when he condemns the outrages in the south, while refusing to lay the original blame where it is due. Where this is is clearly shown by a long letter of Dr. F.
O'Reilly, K.C.S.G., to the press, which coincides in its findings with the secretary of the National Council of Civil Liberties, London, that the riots were the outcome of a conscious programme of the northern authorities to start an anti-Catholic pogrom.
1 understsed that representative Irishmen of various denominations, stung by the dcesrmination of the British and SixCounty authorities to hush up the whole affair, are suggesting the • tablishment of a sworn inquiry by the Catholic authorities.
The commission might consist of Judge Hanna, Judge Meredith. Lord Chief Justice Moore (all Protestants), a Catholic member, such as Sen. T. J. Campbell, K.C.. of Belfast; and n English lawyer nominated by the National Council for Civil Liberties. The findings of such a sworn inquiry would be definitely authori tative and would tell the world what is the exact position of the minority in the Six Counties.