By the Way
One of the results of the present international struggle has been to show in no uncertain man¬ner who is with us and those who are against us. Labour M.P.’s have endeavoured to outdo both Liberal and Tory in their denunciation of the workers. “Mr. G. H. Roberts, M.P., said he had read in the papers a statement by his friend, Mr. James Sexton, that the appalling casualties at Neuve Chapelle were largely due to the lack of munitions. In other words, if the workmen had done their duty many a British soldier who had died there would be probably alive to-day.” As was pointed out in last month’s ” S.S.,” it is necessary to hide from the men in the trenches some of the contributing factors for the deficiency. Is Mr. Roberts really as simple as he appears to be, or is he playing the game ? The present scribe knows of men who were engaged at a London Labour Exchange for work in a munitions factory at Newcastle, and after journeying thither were sent back to London without even being given a trial. This in a “national emergency,” when all parties are screeching about the dearth of munitions. Verily, like the peace of God, it passeth all understanding.
Perhaps these “labour” gentry and other capitalist apologists might reply that the number of men rejected is somewhat small. But even so, it does not redound to the credit of these men of “great directive ability” and “business acumen” for their London agents to engage men and despatch them several hundred miles to be rejected at the other end.
Again, to look at the subject from another point, the magnificent wage of 28s. for a 53 hour week does not appear to err on the side of generosity. When one considers that 15s. appears to be the amount for board and lodging, with an addition of 2s. for travelling expenses to and from work, deductions for Insurance and Trade Union subscriptions, combined with the fact that many of the London men have a family to support, it is easily seen how utterly impossible it would be for these workers to go and get decently drunk.
Mr. Ben Tillett (of God strike Lord Devonport dead fame) has been staying in France to recover his health, and on the occasion of the May-day meeting addressed a message to French workers, in the course of which he said :
“Britain alert, mutually co-operating with France, stands for civilisation, for a spiritual awakening of Europe, for the overthrow of Kaiserism, militarism, and the capitalistic vandals whose brutal power is now ravishing Europe, and the world itself.”—(“Reynolds,” 9.5.15.)
We are obliged for this information as to Britain’s object in unsheathing the sword and letting loose the dogs of war. Especially interesting is the news that we are out for the overthrow of “militarism and the capitalistic vandals.” At a time when men are being trained to fight in unprecedented numbers, when the Boy Scouts, Naval Cadets, Church Lads’ Brigade and a host of other similar movements are being fostered to a greater extent than ever before, this surely is a novel way of overthrowing militarism and capitalism. Try again, Ben.
We at one time thought that trade unions existed for the purpose of protecting the interests of their members, but of late they seem to be put to every other use than assisting the workers in their fight against the masters. Now we are informed that an important decision has been reached by the Glasgow and West of Scotland Armaments Committee in reference to bad time-keeping in shipyards and engineering shops. The Committee represents the workers as well as the employers and the Government Departments. The decision referred to is as follows :
“In the case of the union men it is arranged that immediately a case of apparently avoidable bad time-keeping or otherwise hindering the output of Government work is brought to notice, the employer will report to the trade union, who will investigate and, if necessary, fix the fine, which will not exceed £1 for the first offence, £2 for the second, and £3 for the third offence, the last-mentioned coupled with immediate discharge.”—”Daily News & Leader,” 17.5.15.
During the latter part of last year the papers proclaimed, amidst a great flourish of trumpets, that the Board of Trade had announced their intention to entertain applications for the payment from the Exchequer during the present emergency, of special grants to voluntary associations which provide benefits for their unemployed members, subject to certain conditions. The rate of the grant will be determined by the amount of the levy. In the case of one union paying unemployment benefit, we are informed that the emergency grant cannot any longer be continued by the Treasury. This appears to be another “scrap of paper” violated.
Mr. Philip Snowden, believed to have been the first man to have drawn the attention of the Government to the existence of the “drink-soddened democracy,” has at long last, it appears, received recognition in the shape of a seat on the Central Control Board (Liquor Traffic). No doubt, as in the case of Mr. Arthur Henderson, his appointment will not meet with the unanimous approval of the Labour Party and I.L.P., but none can deny that he knows all about the drinking and shirking proclivities of the working class.