1910s >> 1912 >> no-90-february-1912

Editorial: The Miners’ Masters

The great army of ill-paid workers who face death and disablement in the bowels of the earth have been met with derision when asking for security of a mere pittance. A minimum wage varying with the cost of living and hardly ever exceeding it, is said to be the “end of the industry.”

 

Though the mine-owners have been piling up huge profits—increased, too, by the strike rumours —they are leaving no stone unturned to “scotch” the disaffected toilers. Idyllic pictures are appearing in the prostituted Press purporting to be the homes of the colliers, but the exaggeration and obvious lying they contain cannot but convince the reader that they are really describing the homes of the managers instead! Mr. D. A. Thomas, the Liberal head of the Cambrian Combine, is roaring and fuming like the Bull of Bashan about the extortion of the miners. His fellow Liberal mine-owners all follow in his train. Sir Charles MacLaren and Sir Alfred Thomas (now Lord Pontypridd), the recent recipient of “honours,” are also Liberal mine-owners. In fact, the Liberal party contains more of them than does the Tory party.

 

If matters last long enough, we may witness the same methods that have ever been, used to frighten and cow the strikers. The great party of “trust, tempered with prudence,” will answer the cry of the stricken shareholders by despatching police and military.

 

Some “compromise” in which the workers’ demands are forgotten will no doubt be the one result for some time to come. But the economic pressure, ever present,will force the men again and again into these skirmishes. Until they grasp the Socialist view and wrest political supremacy from their masters very little can be achieved. And the mischievous moonshine about the power of Industrial Unionism or Syndicalism that is being taught amongst the miners will not help matters.

 

Preach united action by a worker’s organisation built on class lines, by all means, but disillusion yourself that even that sound economic action alone can give yon any lasting and efficient victory. In America, where the Western Federation of Miners is strong, where miner’s unions are the backbone of the Federation, you have massacre after massacre by the armed ruffians hired by the Republican Government. Tender children sweat in the most dangerous mines, and wages are but the bare cost of the toilers’ subsistence.

 

Show the toilers the lines of class cleavage, its cause and the instrument of its perpetuation. Organise them politically for the capture of that instrument for their own purposes, that is, for the overthrow of the present social system and the establishment in its place of the Socialist Commonwealth. That and that alone is the cure for the miners’ misery.