Page 2, 16th March 1951

16th March 1951
Page 2
Page 2, 16th March 1951 — INDUSTRIAL UNREST

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Locations: Manchester, Birmingham


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Answer to Colm Brogan

Mr. Brogan has, as he admits raised three queltiOn8 which ,"were suggested" by my letter of the 9th February. I am quite prepared to discuss Moral issues which my letter may have raised. But may I first of all deal with the Press attitude? The statement that "the attitude of the Press did more harm than all the speeches of the Communist Party to arouse dissatisfaction," has not been disproved by Mr. Brogan. How could it be? Mr. Sheehan and Mr. dc Rouffignac-both obviously more in touch. and able to judge the effect of the statement in branch and workshop than Mr. Brogan. know that there was misrepresentation in the Press. Why? .. . Possibly to cause doubt, uneertainty and confusion. Which brings us to Manchester and Mr. Brogan s three questions. Well, as far a I. personally. am concerned, the answer to all three questions is YES. The same three questions apply to employers as well as workers. thought In relation to (1) I realise that it is being inferred that I am lacking in charity? But only if my accusation wcre not true. Yet Mr. Brogan has called my accusation in relation to the Press attitude " laughable," and then turned his hack on it,-but he did not attempt to prove that I am wrong, and the Press correct. Hundreds of thousands of engineers know that there was misrepresentation, and so YOU get unrest and " go slow " in

Manchester. Who, then, are you going to blame? Those who cause the unrest, or those who resort to

" go slow "? Remember, though, that in repudiating piece-work rates, those men worked for basic rates. They did not draw their piece-work earnings. and I do not doubt that very few of them found it necessary to worry over moral issues in connection with their wages and their refusal to work piece-work.

In regard to (2). of course Catholics are hound to honour agreements, -Catholic employers, too! But, sir,

I assure you that before the agreement was sent out to T.U. branches for discussion and for the information of members. they were told that 24 million engineers had been awarded an Ils. Increase. To them it is not a question of honouring agreements. It's a question of Ils. that Isn't! Why did the Press not tell the truth? Why did it not say that if a man was getting anything above the basic rate it was not an 1 is. increase? Why did they not tell the nation that it was " intended that craft differentials and merit awards should be oreserved." and that the employers will not accept that clause in its effect? There is provision in the agreement to ensure that, for instance, a skilled toolmaker in receipt of a craft differential shall maintain his differential. i.e.. if a skilled worker gets any increase, the toolmaker to maintain his differential should receive the identical increase. But do the employers agree? No. sir. they do not.

As for que.stion (3). I have heard a lot about a " fair day's work for a fair day's wage." But what about a " fair day's wage for a fair cho's work "? I have never been able to decide what a fair day's work is. but I know whether I am getting a fair day's wage, and my foreman

decides the other! Do not let us forget that even if the Manchester engineers go " day-work ' instead of " piece-work," there is still about two or even three times as much being made out of their work than they receive for it. The Penny Catechism does provide an answer! Speaking

• Four sins crying to heaven for

vengeance." we find, (4) "defrauding labourers of their wages." and " defrauding " is defined (in the Catechism of Christian Doctrine. o. 114) as " Not giving for the work of others the amount agreed upon. or as much a$ justice demands."

I hope that I shall never be accused of the harsh accusations contained in Mr. Brogan's last paragraph. I can only sae that thousands of us in the workshops and T.U. branches are always striving to reconcile the moral law with difficulties, realities and circumstances of which. I feel sure Mr. Brogan has not had actual experience? It isn't just a question of speaking to Trade Union branches That could be easily arranged. It is a question of understanding the difficulties of representation of the workers: trying to apply a moral code to a world which is very little concerned with moral law, Was the Arbitration Tribunal concerned with moral law? And it's just as lacking in the board room as in the branch room!! But to men like Chris. Blackwell and and others, trying to carry a Cross even in the workshops, it is pretty foul to use the words that Mr. Brogan uses when he refers to " zealous practising Catholics, more or less blinded to those elements of the moral law which may appear to stand in the way of the immediate fulfilment of their passionate convictions and aspirations." Maybe / asked for it, and I accept that, but it doesn't say much for the loyal devotion of thousands who may have. as we all have passionate convictions, but no aspirations, J. A. GraekroitEx.

196 Parkdale Road, Sheldon. Birmingham, 26.

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