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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.

The Socialist Labour Party Runs Away

In previous issues of The Socialist Standard we have challenged the Weekly People of New York to quote any reference where Marx made the statement quoted by them on Trade Unionism. Many issues of the People have appeared, but we still wait for an answer.

Editorial: The Present State of the Trade Union Movement

  If numbers were all that mattered the trade union movement could congratulate itself on being in a very healthy condition. In this country there are now well over 8,000,000 trade unionists compared with 6,000,000 in 1939, and 4,000,000 in 1913. On the international field the expansion is much more striking because trade unionism is fast developing in countries,, such as South American republics, where it was formerly weak or non-existent. The International Federation of Trade Unions which had about 7,000,000 affiliated members in 1913, and 33,000,000 in 1932 (before the seizure of German trade unions by the Nazi Government) has just been replaced by the new World Federation of Trade Unions claiming some 60 million members in its affiliated national trade union centres.

Captains and Guides

 The National Union of Teachers has been in existence for 35 years. It has three representatives in Parliament, a membership rivalling in numbers the great Trade Unions, each member a “captain and guide of the democracy.” An Archbishop sends greeting to its latest Conference, Vicar and Major, Ex-Cabinet Minister and M.P„ all unite to “welcome” and patronise the delegates assembled at said Conference. All are greeted with rapturous “applause," and all is as well as well can be in this best of all possible educational worlds.

 And yet—and yet—the career of a “captain," the lot of a “guide," is still like unto the policeman's life “when constabulary duty's to be done." List to the plaint of the President. “A career inadequately remunerated, passed under harassing conditions, practically in many cases, the servants of officials who rule with an iron hand, depending for their livelihood on voice and brain, and, if these fail, cast aside without remorse."

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