Page 1, 27th November 1953

27th November 1953
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Locations: Sheffield


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Communists want token strike to win big political stakes By DOUGLAS HYDE I T would be ridiculous to suggest that the current agitation for more wages for workers in the engineering industry is no more than

just a Communist plot.

What seems clear is that Communists in the industry have been responsible for determining the character of the entire campaign; even the 15 per cent. wage increase figure first came from them.

The party hopes to gain two notable achievements as a result of the 24-hour "token" strike.

First, there has been no national engineering strike since long before the last war and there is no recent tradition of any sort of large-scale strikes, either official or unofficial, in the industry.

The consequence is that a generation of engineers has grown up with no knowledge of strike action. To break that tradition would he a very considerable achievement from the Communist's point of view. One strike would, they believe, lead to many more.

Fighting mood

Already, by early this week, the Communists were hopeful of using the new fighting mood of the workers which the party has done so much to create to spread similar agitations to other industries.

For example, the Scottish miners, who are Communist-led, on Monday sent their congratulations to the engineers and backed this up with a demand for speedier action on their own wage claim, affecting some 400,000 men.

And the Daily Worker's Parliamentary Correspondent was hopefully writing: "Other workers may be encouraged to follow the engineers' example, and the engineers may be encouraged to go forward for a no-time-limit strike to gain their wage claims."

Secondly, the party believes that the timing of the campaign will materially assist the cause of Mr. Claude Berridge, a well-known Communist A.E.U. leader who is currently running for the important post of president of the union.

When industrial workers are considering "militant" action they invariably show a tendency to turn to the Communists for leadership, since they are able to pose as the only ones who are prepared to fight the thing to the finish.

If that is the prevailing mood when members of the A.E.U. vote for their new president during the week beginning December 3. Berridge may very well, they calculate, pick up sufficient votes to win.

How demand arose

To have one of their members at the very top of a union, organising so many workers in an industry of decisive importance would strengthen the hand of the Communists enor mThe history of them

.deand for a l: usi y.

per cent. wage increase is an interesting one.

It came first from the Sheffield District A.E.U. Shop Stewards' quarterly meeting as far hack as almost a year ago. The interest in this is that the Sheffield A.E.U. is seen by the Communists as their 'guinea pig." and what the Communists are planning to do may often be gauged by observing the demands of the engineers in this district.

From then on the Communists can. with some justificatiOn, claim to have made the pace of the whole campaign.

Writing in the January issue of the Continued on page

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