Provincial ponderings


According to the leading article in the “Birmingham Daily Mail” of March 24th last, the end of the war “war will throw hundreds of thousands of men back on to the labour market to compete with those now at home for the declining employment. These who, in the days of their present prosperity [!], put something by to meet the bad days that will surely come, may have cause to go down on their knees and thank God for giving them the foresight and the prudence but for which they might see their homes go under and their children wanting for bread.”

“He had come with the authority of Lord Kitchener to tell them that the Government wanted more men, and amongst other places they wanted them from was the grocers’ shops. . . . In London they were organising classes to teach women how to do the grocery trade.”

In all branches of industry the men enlisted have been promised that their jobs will be kept open for them, and yet there is the significant admission in the leading article of this powerful provincial journal—an admission, be it marked, which is constantly appearing in some form or other in almost every newspaper throughout the country—that, instead of there being less unemployment, there will be severer competion than ever for employment after the war. This, taken in conjunction with the fact that women and girls are being employed in vastly increasing numbers to perform work formerly performed by men, foreshadows not only an undreamt of worsening of working-class conditions, but also a depreciation of the workers’ commodity, labour-power, by the introduction of lower stratas of wage-labour, which bids fair to become historic.


“It was a vicious argument that because the cost of living had increased wages must be advanced. If the people found the cost of living increasing they must economise. About the last thing in the world the working class would try to do was to economise.”— Sec. Grocers’ Federation.


“My income is two thousand a year. It is inadequate.”—Lieut. Lowther in the Court.

E. J.

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