By a C.H. Reporter Communist influence in the Trade Union Movement in this country is making startling progress.
Since the withdrawal of the so-called " Black Circular," which' debarred Communists from holding office in Trade Unions or as delegates to Trades Councils, the Communists have succeeded in controlling many of the District Committees of Trade Unions.
Last month they captured the London Trades Council, an affiliation of Trade Unions and Trades Councils representing half a million workers. This month a Communist will fill the vacancy of secretary to the London 'Trades Council. Such is the 'Communist advance in 18 months, the period since the withdrawal of the " Black Circular," following the return of the T.U.C. delegation to Russia.
There is danger of even more serious results of this Communist progress. It is very possible that the National Executives of the Trade Unions will soon be under the control of the Communists, and as these Executives exert a great influence over the Labour Party's policy, the next General Election may see a Labour Government under the control of a Communist Trade Union movement.
Nearer home, from the Catholic point of view, is the danger to Catholic. schools. The T.U.C.'s famous attempt to withdraw financial support to Catholic schools coincided with the new Communist freedom in Union affairs. Under a Communist T.U. controlled Labour Government the Catholic schools may be further imperilled.
. Nor is it out of the question that a Communist " Black Circular " might debar the yery few Catholics from holding positions in the Trade Union movement.
Catholic labour circles art extremely worried by these tendencies, and the eossible dangers they portend.
To account for the Communist advance they first indicate the lamentable fact that the tens of thousands of Catholic women in the Trade Unions have exercised no influence on their organisations. Second. and closely connected with the first, is that certain Unions have had a big war-time influx of women workers, and these Unions are largely responsible for the growth of Communism.
The Communist Party. they point out, were opposed to. the war against Fascism until Germany declared war on Russia, after which their members flocked into the temporary ranks of the Civil Service, Civil Defence, Engineer ing, Garment Making and the industries organised by the Transport Workers' and General and Municipal Workers' Unions. At the end of [he war the inflated membership of these Unions will
burst and millions of people will return
to whatever occupation they held before the war. Already some of these professional workers are becoming redundant. but in the meantime they are in control of the Trade Unions.
The Archbishop of Westminster. they note with pleasure, at his reception to the delegates to the World Trade Union Conference, gave a lead to Catholic workers to become more active in their Unions. Catholic Parents Associations and the Catholic Social Guild should commence a cam paign to enrol in every 'parish every Catholic worker who is not yet a Trade Union member.
The Catholic Trade Unionists should follow the example of their co-religioneas in America and educate themselves to take an active part in the work of the Union branches. to seek to become shop stewards in their factories, to he delegates to their Trade Councils, to be nominated to attend their Union Conferences, and to enter into the activities of the Trade Union movement.
that the Catholic unity with the Communists Was inevitably a cautious and watchful one.
" One of the Catholic leaders," he said, " pointed out that Catholic workers do not want to refrain from collaborating in the union of all workers, but that they do not renounce eithcr the defence of their religious social conscience or their moral technical preparation for labour struggle.
Christianworkers make the boldest aspirations of the rest of the Italian workers their own, but within the limits fixed by justice and respect towards the legitimate rights of the other • social classes.
" Guided by this principle, the Catholics asked, and obtained, that the unified Trade Unions should guarantee respect for the religious faith and the politicalsocial opinions of all its members. Evi dently, this neutrality or tolerance was not the ideal for the Catholics, but they asked for it and accepted it as an indispensable condition for their collaboration.
" Pius XI allowed Catholic workers to join neutral unions if they protect justice and equity and permit Catholics to obey their own consciences and the laws of the 'Church. This condition could not be possible in a Trade Union submitted to the influence of antiChristian political parties. " The fundamental problem of the organisation of the Italian General leedeiation of Labour is to make effective its autonomy from the Parties, democratising itself and taking into its own hands the initiative which to-day belongs to the Patties "The Naples Congress has not tackled this problem, but it has shown its good intentions. When these become a reality, the American Federation of Labour will perhaps stop speaking of the Italian Workers Syndicalism as of a truce between democratic and totalitarian groups — a truce which will finish when the Communists believe that the opportune moment for crushing the democratic opposition has come. " These U.S. workers undoubtedly bear in their minds Lenin's words telling his followers to join the syndicates to perform their Communist mission inside thetn. This is a danger which is not being overlooked by the Italian Catholics, for, whom loyalty and confidence are not synonyms of ingenuousness and somnolence."
The strength of the Communist Party 'does not lie in its numbers, but in the • organisation of its members into groups throughout the country. Catholic weak. ness lies in the apathy of Catholic women—yet they are to be found it Guilds and Sodalities in every parish. Girls leaving .school should be told of the days when the Workers' Guild; were a great power in Catholic England