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Trades Union Congress

Workers on the Defensive

One of the shrewdest comments on this year's Trades Union Congress was made by the Manchester Guardian on September 5th. Reviewing the position of the trade unions since the Labour Government came into power four years ago the article pointed out in what a world of illusion trade union supporters of the Government have been living. Their feeling was that now at last they had the power and the opportunity to reach higher standards of living, but in fact "since the fuel crisis they have been for all their power and all the old illusions of what power would bring, on the defensive: the struggle has been to prevent real wages from falling."

The Taming of the T.U.C.

What has happened to the trade unions, to their national platform the T.U.C., and to their political shadow the Labour Party? Where now is the trade union army that fought the general strike in 1926? In what dump have they parked their rusty weapon, the strike? Where are the Reds of yesteryear, and who are these men and women with their generous sprinkling of O.B.E.s, Knighthoods and Peerages who at Margate earned from the discerning observer of the Manchester Guardian (10/9/48) the tribute that "once again the T.U.C. has shown the moderate good sense that often seems to surprise its own leaders as much as the critics"?

Gyrations At Glasgie

Glasgow has the largest population of any city in Scotland, so it was decided that the largest representative gathering of Trade Union officials – called the Trades Union Congress – ever held should take place there this year. Delegates more or less (less rather than more) representing five and a half millions of organised workers, gathered in the St Andrew's Halls to discuss a lengthy agenda.

It was to be a great tournament. A mighty battle was expected to be fought over the Parliamentary Committee's refusal to call a Special Congress at the request of the Triple Alliance. Nationalisation of Mines and other Industries was another great topic. But the supreme struggle was expected to centre around the question of Direct Action. Here the giants would – vocally – spread the ground with each other's gore.

The Fiftieth Trade Union Congress

There has been a Jubilee at Derby. Fifty years ago the Trade Union Congress was inaugurated at Manchester, and this year celebrated its golden anniversary. How far have the organised workers travelled in their struggles, their views and their understanding of the position they occupy in society in this stride of time? A brief glance at this year's gathering may help us to answer this question.

In point of numbers the Congress was the largest representation of organised workers in the world, as the affiliated membership totalled over four and half millions. Compared with the 118,367 at its first meeting this looks a splendid advance. But these numbers alone do not necessarily mean progress.

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