White Slavers in Parliament
“The Parliament of Man — the Federation of the World.” Thus sang the poet but it is not yet. The Parliament of our time is an assembly of traffickers in slaves of all colours but mostly white —of both sexes but of women increasingly.
During the past month the dockers of those busy ports, Hull, Leith, etc., have struck against the tyranny of the slave-owners. These most helpless of casual labourers, the men who congregate round dock gates for hours in the hope of obtaining a few hours slavery, found themselves faced by the majesty of the law — the law made by robbers to sanction robbery.
The representatives of mighty moneyed interests made demands for police and military, and the Liberal Home Secretary promptly ordered troops to the seat of struggle. “Reynolds’” (20.7.13) announced “Warships Ready,” not to fight the Germans, but the white slaves of the black international. This Liberal paper says: “Six gunboats of the mine-laying class have arrived at the port with several hundred men ready to be landed to protect life and property.” The lives and property of the traders in flesh and blood. “The military and naval authorities are now acting conjointly in the matter’’—all in the interests of the shipowners and merchants who use Parliament so well to further their own ends.
The dockers at Hull and elsewhere will see these things repeated while they vote into power Liberals and their Labour and Tory allies, what time they rely upon an inefficient and out-of-date trade union to prosecute their economic struggles.
The Wilson family of Liberal shipowners boast of a generation’s representation of Hull; of such is the blindness of Labour!
For many weeks the white slaves of the Black Country have been fighting for 23s. per week for wearing out their lives before furnaces and kilns and making wealthy the shining lights of the Liberal and Tory parties. After a sad and foredoomed struggle they have gone back to work on a compromise of 22s. per week.
Recently it was the girls and women of the adjacent towns and Cradley Heath who were driven to strike. These women, making chains of iron for those who hold them bound in chains more cruel than can be forged out of any metal, stayed out some weeks, until the Board of Trade; (in white slaves) settled the matter by ordering employers to pay “all workers except learners” the starvation rate of 2½d. per hour. When the lace workers of Nottingham rose against their death-dealing wage the same Trade Boards Act passed by the parasites’ Parliament fixed their ; wages at 2¾d. per hour for “all workers except ’ learners.” The tailoresses in the bespoke (better class) branch of the male garment trade were next treated to Christian charity in the shape of 3¼ d. per hour for ‘‘all workers except learners.”
It may, indeed, be truly said that the Trade Boards were used to make coffins for the toilers.
This same Parliament decided that 5d. per hour was a “fair wage” for the navvies building a new naval base at Rosyth The men struck for 6d., which was the local rate, whereupon the manager of the local labour Exchange proceeded to Dublin to hire the sous of Erin at 5½d per hour. Meanwhile the Irish Party of hungry politicians voted with the Government against enforcing any higher wage than 5d. To add to the irony of the situation, the men building the new naval base found the harbour held by gunboats sent by the plutocrats’ Parliament to shoot them if they deemed it desirable.
Space fills and time flies. I had intended to deal with the latest developments of what is sanctimoniously called “The White Slave Traffic,” the last hope of the beaten and broken derelicts of murderous industrialism. Another phase of the trade in white slaves arranged by Parliament—I refer to the white slaves of insurance—also demands attention, but both these must await a future issue.