FRESH MOVE TO REVIVE THE STRIKE
By DOUGLAS HYDE THE Communists,. who have succeeded in making the peace in London's dockland one which rests almost on a razor's edge, are now working hard to get a new strike going on Merseyside.
They hope that if they succeed they may thereby start a new strike wave in London and elsewhere.
They take the view that the recent strike might just as easily have started in Liverpool as London,
and that this time, instead of coming relatively late into the fight, they will he the instigators and therefore its leaders from the start.
For this reason the Communists on Merseyside, helped from London, are looking for a suitable issue around which to get a strike.
True to form, they are courting the Catholic dockers and using wherever possible people with so-called Catholic names for their purpose.
`Keep pot boiling'
In London they are assisted by the fact that although the strike helped to clear the air on the issue of compulsory overtime i t s underlying causes have still to be dealt with.
The overtime issue, almost as it were accidentally, caused the multiplicity of the dockers' discontents to boil over into the great strike which paralysed the capital's docks.
The accumulation of grievances, most of which the strike in no way resolved, along with the deeper and more difficult problem of human relations throughout the industry, gave the Communists their chance to "keep the pot boiling."
This they determined to do for two reasons: First, because at a conference of their industrial leaders held after the
strike began (to which I have referred before), they decided that they had been "lagging behind the mood of the workers," and they are anxious to rectify this by exploiting every evidence of industrial unrest.
Secondly, because whenever there a r e "peace" overtures between Britain and the Soviet Union, the British Communist Party, contrary to what one might expect, plays up the class war at home.
This is almost a principle of Communist tactics. It is done (a) to strengthen Russia's bargaining power; (b) to dispel any idea on the part of party members themselves, and their sympathisers. that peaceful relations with the U.S.S.R. mean any letting up of the class struggle at home; (e) because they take the view that a working class in a fighting mood is one which is more consciously proCommunist and therefore more proSoviet too, and will as a consequence exert greater pressure upon the Government in the direction of closer relations with the Soviet Union.
When men return to work after a long strike, with all the hardships which it inevitably causes, the mood, after the first restless day or so, is normally one of determination to have a period of peace.
This time, however, thanks very largely to Communist activity, that mood has not prevailed. It is as bitter as ever, and there have already been two "snap" strikes and repeated threats of others.
The 8,000 ship-repair strikers continue to keep the Communist union officials on a short rein. It is noteworthy that the pressure for negotiations is coming very largely from the central strike committee itself, and not from the employers, who have reputedly put up a great show of. being in no hurry to see a settlement, and certainly not from the Communists.
The most recent move to get the dispute referred to the Ministry of Labour was made against the advice of the Communist trade union officials concerned, although it is they who have to make it.
One of the strike committee's most prominent and influential members. an active East London Catholic, has recently not been present at its meetings. He has been in Rome, where he has been meeting one of his two nundaughters, who both work among lepers in the Far East,