Sold Again

Exactly twelve months after the last bit of treachery, the slaves on the G.W. and other S. Wales lines have been compelled to risk starva­tion rather than go on working under the hellish conditions that prevail on those lines to-day. And once again the men’s leaders have betrayed them into the hands of the enemy.

We will glance at the facts which have led up to this latest piece of railway treachery. We find a big dispute on at Dublin, and Driver James, of the G.W., refuses “to handle tainted goods”—in which line of action he was quite in accordance with trade union principles.

Reynolds follows, and others follow them—not only on account of Dublin, but because of the vile conditions on their own job.

Under present conditions, railways, being the most rapid means of transport, must be kept working smoothly or there will be “trouble.” The masters realise this quite plainly, so at the first manifestation of “unrest” among railway men, they and their “Labour” hangers-on use every means in their power to quell such “unrest.”

Amongst railwaymen the ideas relating to labour questions are very conservative, and they believe that a select body of men should con­duct their affairs for them. As their time is spent between work and bed, they think these “leaders” free to give their whole time to the study of the wants of their comrades, will be be better able to fight their battles for them.

The “leaders”, therefore, are endowed with a trust, and are the servants of their comrades, from whom they mostly draw handsome salaries.

They should, then, stand by their members through thick and thin. But what are the facts of the case ?

In the present instance the “brain department of directing ability,” deeming it prudent not to put their foot down at once, let things run for a day or two to see what the trusted “leaders” were going to do. And Mr. J. H. Thomas, the “leader” of something like a quarter of a mil­lion railway men, rose to the occasion in tradi­tional style. He said (“Daily Herald,” 4.12.13) :

“Under no consideration must the men stop work. No support will be given by the Union to any unauthorised action.”

The companies, of course, no sooner saw this “green light” than they were ”right away.” At ordinary times they refuse to recognise the men’s unions, but now they know what they hava to deal with they are only too willing to negotiate with Williams, Thomas & Co.

But did these so called leaders stand by their members ? Not likely ! As before, they signed them away and brought peace to the railway bosses.

Let us look at the “agreement” that the men are now tied to, as reported in “Lloyd’s News­paper”, December 12th, 1913.

(1) No reinstatarneat of James and Reynolds.
(2) The men’s accredited representatives stated that they ware authorised by the men on strike to express regret that they had taken such action, and gave an assurance that the men would not take similar action in future. They also agreed to recommend the men to subscribe from 1s. to 2s. 6d. to the Swindon Victoria Hospital.
(3) No guaranteed week’s payment to be made to the men during the period of the strike.
(4) The men to resume work immediately.

“Mr. J. H. Thomas was the leading spirit in bringing the strikers to a sense of their real position and the Company to a compromise, said our contemporay, while the “Daily Chronicle” (8.12.1913) observed : “At Swansea, etc., the drivers and firemen strongly resented the terms of peace, and were not disposed to go back.”

And there we have it. Sold again, just as the the N.E. men were twelve months ago.

“The net result is, James and Reynolds are no nearer reinstatement,” said “Lloyd’s News,” “and the strikers forfeit a week’s pay, and also a small fine for charity.”

We have pointed out for years that this Lib-Lab crew are only out to bolster up capitalism and to lead the workers to disaster, and this is but another added to the long list of instances that confirm the worst we have said of them. But who are to blame ? If the rank and file of the railway workers only took the trouble to understand things for themselves they would soon bring these upstart traitors to heel. It is ouly the ignorance of the men that could permit their paid servant, Mr. J. H. Thomas, to give expression to the contemptuous remark that (I quote the “Daily Citizen,” 15.12.13) : “He does not subscribe to the policy that the leaders should do what they are told by the rank and file. If a leader, when considering matters of importance to the welfare of the men, had to ask himself: ‘Is this popular or unpopular with the men ?’ the question of leadership would be reduced to an absolute farce.”

The logic of this is quite irresistible. It is simply saying in so many words that he who controls is boss, and he, Thomas, is boss. It is saying as plainly any man can, the servant is he who obeys the orders of others, and he, Thomas, is not the servant of those who pay him, and is therefore not going to do as they tell him.

Mr. Thomas is not alone in this sentiment. At a big meeting of T.U. “leaders” it was de­cided that nothing could be done concerning affairs in Dublin until the democratic (!) tradi­tions of British Trade Unionism had been fol­lowed by submitting the matter to the rank and file. But steady up ! What is the meaning of this peculiar document which (according to the “Daily Herald,” 10.12.13) was sent to a N.U.R. Delegate ?

“Unity House, 6.12.13.”
“Dear Sir,—Special Conference of T.U.C. and Dublin Dispute.
“Two or three of the Delegates have written me asking if they would have to attend the Conference which is to be held on Tues. next. I have, therefore, to inform you that the E.C. have decided to send 13 of their own members to the Conference, and it will not be necessary for you to attend. I send this intimation to you in case you are in any way anxious.
“Yours faithfully,
“J. E. Williams.”

Once more, only their own kidney may attend in order that things shall go their way. And what was the position most of them took up ! It was to keep their underlings at work and let the starving Irishmen “get on with it,” Hardly a word against the master class—oh, no !

Again, as in 1912, 1911, and 1907 the rail­way men have been tricked by their “leaders.” And nothing is more certain than that they will be tricked again and yet again until they have learnt to look after their own interests instead of entrusting that vitally important work to others.

The railway workers, like other workers, must realise that unless they understand the position, unless they control their own organisations, trusting to their own intelligence, however small their knowledge may be, striking every blow themselves ; unless they do their own thinking, surrendering power into the hands of none, but choosing from among their number—not bosses to prate to them of “unauthorised action,” and to tell that they must “under no circumstances stop work”—but servants to carry out their instructions : until they do all these things they will always be sold out by their “leaders,” because the latter are looking for fat jobs and emoluments from the masters.


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