Page 8, 22nd August 1941

22nd August 1941
Page 8
Page 8, 22nd August 1941 — Soviet Pact Strengthens Trade Union Extremists

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People: Stafford Cripps


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Soviet Pact Strengthens Trade Union Extremists

From Our Labour Correspondent Trouble in trade union circles from various sources would seem to be brewing.

As might be expected the entry of the U.S.S.R. into the war and the conclusion of an Anglo-Russian alliance has immediately resuscitated the old United Front antics of the so-called Left Wing, which culminated some few years ago with the expulsion of Sir Stafford Cripps and his satellites from the Labour Party.

Now there is springing into being once again the old subversive movements under new nomenclatures, and it is significant that in addition to a resolution passed by a large majority calling for the raising of the ban on the Daily Worker, the powerful Amalgamated Engineering Union should, at its annual conference, have carried a resolution calling for more freedom for the development within the Union of " rank and file " activities. ever a favourite brand of Communist cell formation.

At the same time the T.U.C., alive to the moves being made by men it knows are no real friends of the Labour movement, has issued a statement which while welcoming to the full the new relations between England and Russia, at the same time, acridly rebuffs any impending overtures from the Communist party which the statement pointedly remarks, until June 22nd, 1941, took " every opportunity to obstruct and weaken the national effort" and has " again demonstrated its irresponsible and unstable character."

The refusal of the Government to accede to the agricultural workers' demand for a £3 a week minimum wage has resulted in the

trade unions applying for the release of land operatives from the •' Restrictions on Engagements Order " which prevents them from leaving the farmstead and ploughshare for the much higher paid work on munitions.

That such an absurd situation should arise during a desperate war is a direct consequence of the official indecisiveness on wage policy. and the demand of the agricultural workers for freedom to seek better remunerated employment than that upon which they are engaged is only one example of many indicative' of the dissatisfaction being felt by labour which is tied by the " Essential Works Order" to jobs at which they cannot earn such high wages ens are obiained in other spheres of war industry.


Thus the powerful National Union of Railwaymen, with its 370,000 members, at its recent annual conference, while expressing agreement in principle with the Essential Works Order, affirmed its intention of making its applicatilsn to railway workers conditional upon the fixing of a wage minimum of £3 per week plus a war bonus, a decision which would bring increases in pay to some 155,000 of the railways' 650,000 odd employees.

Organised labour as a whole has not questioned the necessity for legislation along the lines of the " Essential Works Order," but unfortunately the situation is not being eased by evidence being forthcoming of cases where employers have used their powers to get rid of workers who were too zealous trade unionists.

On this and other kindred matters there is evidence that a by no means negligible or uninfluential minority of the Parliamentary Labour Party is growing dissatisfied with the trend of the war effort.

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