GET TOGETHER Mischief on
With, Btshop trt the chatr
EMPLOYERS and trade unionists-following the advice Pope Leo XIII gave in his Workers' Charter-got together in the East End of London on Sunday afternoon to celebrate the diamond jubilee of " Rerum Novarum " and to discuss what can best be done now to put the Encyclical's principles into action. But there was a disappointingly small gathering. Not many more than 100 people turned up in the theatre of Toynbee Hall on this sunny afternoon.
The meeting had been sponsored by the Association of Catholic Trade Unionists. the Association of Catholic Managers and Employers and the Catholic Social Guild. Fifteen other Catholic societies had been invited to cooperate.
The Bishop of Brentwood, Mgr. Beck, presided. The principal lay speakers were Mr. Bernard Sullivan, trade union leader for 45 years, and Major J. C. Poole, first president of A.C.M.E., a director of the biggest firm of paint manufacturers in the coun try.
Bishop Beck reviewed the background of the Papal Encyclical by recalling the inhuman conditions of workers in this country in the early part of the last century, bringing the spotlight to bear on, as a typical case. Sarah, an eight-year-old girl who appeared before the Ashley Committee to describe her daily work from 4 a.m. to 5.30 in a coal mine-a child who at the end of the week was taught to ask God to "make me a good servant."
Coming to the present day, the Bishop pointed out that the Church's ideal is not the trade union as it hits developed in this country but the vocational system, in which eonployers and workers unite for the promotion and improvement of the interests of all in their own particular industries.
Mr. Bernard Sullivan declared that " Rerum Novarum" is a practical proposition, not merely a theory-but he had been searching for years for a country, a Catholic country included, that had put its principles into operation.
Employers and workers should form a partnership in industry. France. Holland and Belgium had made laws compelling employers to bring workers on to their hoards of directors.
The same could be done in this country, where industry was obsessed by the idea that the only function of the worker was to sell his labour power.
Major Poole-who recalled that he began his career as 10-hour-day axe man in a Canadian lumber camp and then became a farmer-said that the most urgent problem Catholics have to study and face in the application of the principles of the Social Encyclicals is that of human relationsh i Ps.
The problem has arisen, he said, as the result of the impact of the technician upon industry, and the increase in the si7e of industrial enterprises.
" Unless we are to have a purely materialistic order," Major Poole declared, " the technician must not be allowed to interfere with the relationships between the workers and the higher and lower management."
In the lower grades of management, the relationship is direct and personal. Higher up it might be more or less remote, but the technician is not concerned with human relationships at all.
Fr. Joseph Christie, S.J.-who kept the audience listening for about 20 minutes in pin-drop silence while he. expounded the Catholic philosophy of labour and love-paid a tribute to Mr. Alan Turner, who was to have spoken for the Catholic employer at the meeting.
In fact, said Fr. Christie, Mr. Turner had worked himself into a serious illness by his devotion in putting Christian love and practice into operation in his own factory and in spreading the principles of the Social Encyclicals.
Another "Rerum Novarum" rally. organised by the South Croydon branch of the Catholic Social Guild. under thc chairmanship of Mgr. Kerr MeClement. was held at a week-end study sohool at Windermere House, Upper Norwood, on Saturday and Sunday.
Mr. John Ciano, of the national executive of the Catholic Social Guild, reminded his audience that the Church. which was so often accused of indifference to temporal welfare. had been given no fewer than 250 Papal pronouncements on the social question in the last 60 years.
Fr. Charles Pridgeon. S.J.. of the Catholic Workers' College. Oxford, said that religion is concerned with such matters as rates of pay, strikes, or the "closed shop" precisely because these things touched upon the ability of men to realise their full potentialities. and thus serve God in this world to the lima of their ability.