Owing to the agreement between the L. & N.W. and Midland railway companies, there results a reduction in the wages bill where that agreement is in operation.
We are often told by the advocates of railway nationalisation that the shorter hours of labour which would result from State ownership would mean an increase of workers employed. The details of the agreement between the above named companies have been issued as a White Paper, and certain statements therein disagree with the pro-nationalisers’ contentions.
The Midland Company ran to Rugby over a branch line and the L. & N.W. ran to Leicester over a branch line. The L. & N.W. now work the Rugby section and the Midland the Leicester section. The result is a considerable reduction in the number of working hours. The employees now work but 3½ or four days per week. If this is the result of but a sectional inter-working, what would be the result upon employment of a State effort at organising traffic ?
It must not be forgotten that “nationalisation” presupposes the capitalist State still existent, the dividend mongers still in power, and a proletariat still unable, because of its lack of class-consciousness, to assume control of ALL the industries in the interest of the community. Now, as “nationalisation” of industries is carried out, necessarily, by and in the interest of the exploiting class, it would certainly involve a greater displacement of labour and a smaller wages bill, which in turn would mean decreased purchasing power on the part of the workers in most branches of industry. Of course, if the “nationalisers” can show that the exploiting class will pay a double or treble wages bill to that now paid for the same traffic receipts, then my contention falls to the ground.
I fear we Socialists will have to admit the truth of our opponents contention that “Socialism will abolish the home.” It were folly to deny that we mean to abolish such homes as are described below.
“At a Huddersfield inquest yesterday on a baby that was said to have been suffocated, it was stated that the child’s father and mother and three children all slept in one bed in a one-roomed house. Natural causes was the verdict.” Manchester Guardian, 13.7.09.
Natural causes, indeed ! To say so is to say that the conditions are natural. 0f course; the capitalist-minded jury could return no other verdict. To say that the death was “unnatural” at once lays a charge at someone’s door. The question then arising, followed to the solution, turns the inquest into an inquest on the capitalist system. It is better to resort to the old lie “natural causes.”