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Working Day

The Labour Party and the Unemployed

Labour Statesmanship

The question of unemployment was the first to occupy the preliminary conference of the Labour Party at Hull. “Important” speeches were made by the “statesmen of labour," and a no less “important” resolution was passed.

Mr. Pete Curran said: “Until we are in a position to utilise the legislative machinery of the country for the purpose of curtailing the income of the rich who are in possession, and in adding to the income of the poor, we shall never solve the unemployed problem.”

Mr. J. R. MacDonald, in moving the important resolution said: “Unemployment was now part and parcel of our industrial system; it was produced by the system with the same certainty and accuracy with which the industrial system produced profits.”

Mr. O’Grady in seconding that resolution .said: “The present industrial system was a machine turning out profits on the one hand and unemployed on the other. It was inevitable that it must be so.”

Cooking the Books 1: The Right to Work All Hours

In 1993 the European Commission proposed that the maximum time that employers could legally make their employees work should be limited, on average and including overtime, to 48 hours a week.

A quick calculation will show that, for a six-day week, this is the Eight Hour Day, a long-time trade union demand. In Capital (chapter 10 on “The Working Day”) Marx quotes a declaration from a General Congress of Labor that met in Baltimore in August 1866 that “The first and great necessity of the present, to free the labour of this country from capitalistic slavery, is the passing of a law by which eight hours shall be the normal working day in all States of the American Union”. In fact, May Day was instituted in 1889 precisely to demonstrate for this in all countries.

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