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Socialist Attitude To Trade Unions

Notes on Party History: The Trade Union Question

 The Trade Union question was a very thorny one in the early years of the Party. Some of those who founded the Party had a leaning towards industrial unionism, whilst others were inclined to regard the trade unions as only another facet of Capitalism. These conflicting views were reflected in disagreements over policy that were brought to a head in 1906 when a number of meetings were arranged to discuss the Party’s attitude to Trade Unionism..

 Before reaching this discussion we will relate some of the events that led up to it.

Party News: Second Annual Conference of the Socialist Party of Great Britain

 At the Communist Club. Charlotte Street, Fitzroy Square, the S.P.G.B. held its 2nd Annual Conference on Good Friday and Saturday.

It was unanimously agreed early in the proceedings to admit the press and the public.

Twenty-seven delegates attended, representing 13 branches. R. Elrick (Islington). was appointed chairman on Friday, and L. Boyne (Tottenham) on Saturday.

The report of the Executive Committee (which showed a gratifying increase of membership, an improved financial position, many enquiries from the provinces and prospects of the formation of several provincial branches, an extended circulation of The Socialist Standard and the holding of 600 propaganda meetings) was approved and adopted nem. con. Arising from its discussion the E.C. were instructed to organise a cycling corps to further extend the area of Party activity,

The Socialist Party and the Trade Unions


 The Socialist Party and the Trade Unions have a common origin in the class struggle. The former is the organised expression on the political field of the conscious recognition of that struggle by the workers. Its growth is the measure of their determination to end the struggle by converting the means of living into common property, and thus establishing a harmony of interests within society.

 The class struggle, however, does not commence with the conscious recognition of it as a fact. “In the beginning is the thing ”; the idea follows in its wake, and is, in fact, its reflection in the human mind.

 Long before the origin of the Socialist Party the class struggle was in progress. Strikes and lock-outs, machine-breaking and penal legislation have all testified to the antagonism of interests in modern society for over a century.

Editorial: The Organisation of the Working Class

 
POLITICAL AND ECONOMIC

 Ever since the existing social order originated in the downfall of feudalism, there has been going on a struggle between the two classes of which it is composed, i.e., the capitalist or master-class and the wage-slave or working-class. As a result of this struggle, ever increasing in its intensity and ever widening in its scope, there has arisen a certain degree of organisation on the part of both classes. Up to the present the initiative in the struggle has lain with the masters and the efficiency of their organisation is correspondingly greater than that of the workers, whose lot has in the main consisted of a series of defeats resulting in increased poverty and exploitation. There is urgent need for improvement in the workers’ organisation, hence the propaganda of the Socialist Party.

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