By Our Own Correspondent CATHOLIC TRADE UNIONISTS' ASSOCIATIONS THROUGHOUT GREAT BRITAIN MUST LINK UP—A NATIONAL ORGANISATION IS NEEDED.
This was the opinion that emerged most strongly from the first annual general meeting of the Archdiocesatz Association of Catholic Trade Unionists held in Birmingham last Sunday. Within one year this association has almost doubled its membership. ft commenced with 75 members: it now has 131.
During the course of the meeting there was an expression of mourning for the loss of Mgr. Williams, the late Archbishop of Birmingham, under whose patronage the association was inaugurated. A similar expression of sorrow on behalf of the Archbishop of Zagreb's unjust imprisonment was made from the floor of the meeting.
On hearing of the formation of a similar association in Westminster, Miss W Lowe, the secretary, said that a telegram of loyalty and greeting had been sent to Cardinal Griffin, and correspondence had also passed with the Hexham and Newcastle organisation.
As Miss Lowe spoke of the need for a national organisation covering all such associations there came an interruption from the body of the hall when Mr. Cecil Rouffigniac, chairman of the Liverpool Association of Catholic Trade Unionists, who had not previously announced his presence at the meeting, rose to speak very strongly in favour of the proposal and said that exchanges of information and a co-ordination of efforts would be greatly to the benefit of the whole movement, which, to become effective, must he as numerous and as widely spread as possible.
Mr. Rouffigniac was loudly applauded and, when the chairman of the Birmingham Association, Mr. F. B. Hessian, welcomed him to the meeting, he added that there were also bodies with the same aims formed in Manchester, Crewe and Glasgow.
" We shall be glad to co-operate with each and any of them." he said.
PREPARE FOR LINK-UP!
Mr. A. J. Walsh, a member of the Birmingham committee, rose to suggest that a sub-committee should be formed to study the
question of a link-up and also spoke of the lack of support from some Catholic colleagues, who, properly instructed and organised, could do so much to combat the influence of Communists who, a small body themselves, were vocal, and, by getting their members into executive positions, wielded more influence on the trade unions than their numbers would justify. Other speakers gave their support for such proposals, and after considerable discussion Mr. R. P. Walsh said that the spirit of the meeting showed what could be done, and he had high hopes for the future, especially as he knew that both the Cardinal and Mr. Bernard Sullivan of the Westminster group were anxious for a national link-up. Mr. Walsh added that the movement depended largely on the members in the highly industrialised areas where the mass of trade unionists lived.
THE MORAL LEADERS?
Speaking on the closed shop issue, Mr. Walsh said that the great need of the unions is for the moral leader who gives the movement its ideals and its principles. " The moral leader to-day is represented by the Homers, by the Joe Scotts, the Bert Papvtorths, who have found their philosophy in Marxism and are offering it to the trade unions as a guide through all problems." The issue of the closed shop has roused vast interest and complex problems and resolves into an issue between the right of the individual and the rights of his fellow workers. "It is complicated," said Mr. Walsh, " when one has a union with a his tory, one might almost say a sordid history, such as the National Passenger Workers' Union, which started as a personal attack on Bevin on the part of disgruntled Communists." Such a union remained a permanent sore in the side of the transport workers of London. The great Transport and General Workers' Union would have attacked it at the first opportunity even if the words " closed shop " had never been mentioned.
" The answer to the essential problem of the closed shop," continued Mr. Walsh, " can only be that if the refusal to join a trade union does endanger the welfare of the majority then the right of the individual not to join must be subordinate to the right of the group." Mr. Walsh illustrated this by pointing to events in wartime when a soldier would lose his own life if It allowed him to save other lives. "In peace the solution will be the same. If the well being of the group is at stake then the freedom of the individual to refuse to join is a less important right. " We need to acquire the reputation of having a sound and sensible policy on every problem that arises. That comes from sound training on the teaching of the Church, and from considerable experience of applying that teaching to current problems. That means some study and some thought. Then it means some training to know how to apply what we have learned. Then it means some sacrifice to accept the responsibilities that will be placed on us once we have proved our ability to guide our fellow branch members."