A Lesson from a “White Paper”

The futility of palliatives, amongst which we must perforce reckon conciliation boards, is strikingly illustrated by the consideration of the Board of Trade White Paper containing the preliminary statement relating to the railways of the United Kingdom for ’09. The result of a few of the decisions of the conciliation boards operate in favour of the men, but only on comparatively unimpor questions. By judicious “wangling,” ruthless cutting down and agreements between companies, any slight advantage to the men has been more than out-weighed, smd there is more despotism than ever. The financial results of the year’s operations compared with 1908 were as follows :


1909 Inc. Or decrease
£ £
Passemger receipts 51,198,000 -467,000
Goods receipts 68,971,000 +742,000
Working expenses 75,033,000 -1,375,000
Net receipts 45,130,000 +1,649,000

Maintenance of way, works, etc., cost £60,000 more, but there was a saving of £1.422,000 in locomotive power. Such facts invest the dryest figures with interest. The quantity of minerals and general merchandise conveyed increased by 7,727,000 tons, but the number of train miles declined by 3,035,000.

The lesson here is clear and plain. Any tinkering with conditions of labour, whilst the chain of wage slavery remains unbroken, can only, if it affects matters at all, result in a tightening up of the links. After all, the bargaining with employers, be it through conciliation boards, deputations, recognition of Union officials or what not, is not progressive. It is only the half conscious effort of the workman to recover the ground that capitalism ever pushes away from beneath his feet. It is a struggle against retrogression. Only in Socialism do we find the larger hope. Let us, then, abandon trying to patch up a rotten system ; let us desist from the fatuity of endeavouring to make worse more bearable. All such effort is mere resignation to the slave condition. There is far better work to do than to struggle for such crumbs as your leaders lead you on to. When those leaders led you into the “conciliation boards” trap they delivered you, bound hand and foot, into the hand of the masters. We said so at the time and events prove us correct. Join the S.P.G.B.,. and concentrate on your freedom.


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