Employers May Claim Double Shifts
Representatives of all the textile trades unions met at Manchester last Thursday to discuss the 40-hour week for the cotton, wool, silk, and rayon industries.
It was the biggest conference of its kind for many years, and had been arranged by the Trade Union Congress, to enable the congress to obtain the views of all the textile unions in readiness for discussion at next year's meeting of the International Labour Conference.
In some quarters it is expected that a clash of opinions will show itself. All the trade union leaders are in favour of a 40-hour week, but declarations of the Cotton Union in the past have made it clear that they, although they accept the principle of a shorter working week, are opposed to double-shift working.
Opinion is that if the unions attempt to institute a 40-hour week the employers may claim that the increased cost of production could only be overcome by working double shifts.
It is known that the textile unions outside the cotton trade have considered Lancashire's opposition to two shift working as an embarrassment to the movement for a 40-hour week.
Difficulties might also arise on account of the suggested grouping of the dfferent branches of the textile industry. Wool and cotton comprise the first group. natural and artificial silk the second, and hemp and jute the third.
The grouping of cotton with wool is considered to present d.fficulties, for the Yorkshire trade unions do not believe that the 40-hour week should be sacrificed to the cotton unions' demands for safeguards on the two-shift system.
In addition such grouping presents certain difficulties, for artificial silk is a definite branch of ordinary cotton-weaving and can hardly be classed and split up into a separate union.