1910s >> 1919 >> no-173-january-1919

Letter: Mr. Rock says we err

We have received the following letter from Mr. J. Rock annent a statement which appeared in our November issue:

 

19 Grange Rd., N.W.1
Nov. 17, 1918.

 

Sirs,—I beg to acquaint you of an inaccurate statement in the November issue of your paper, The Socialist Standard, under the heading “By Request.” You state in dealing with the London Aircraft Strike that that dispute failed to save Rock, the shop steward.

 

  On the contrary, as a result of the further negotiations following the enquiry when the dismissal of Rock was confirmed resulted in Rock being reinstated. I was re-instated on Monday 12th, started on the same bench, and still am chairman of the Shop Committee. I  have continued working at Warings and Gillows to date.

 

  Therefore the findings of the Committee of Enquiry set up in the first place by the Ministry of Munitions were quashed as a result of the M. of M. agreeing to the terms of the final settlement,

—yours fraternally, J. B. Rock.

 

Reply:

 

Mr. Rock’s “correction” reads rather curiously. We said : “The London Air-craft Strike failed to save Rock, the shop-steward.” This statement our correspondent denies by referring to the “result of further negotiations,” but forgets to mention who carried on these “negotiations” and where the findings may be found.

 

To make the matter quite clear we place the following facts before our readers :

 

Mr. Rock was dismissed from the Alliance Aeroplane Works, Hammersmith (an offshoot of Waring & Gillows, Ltd.) on June 26th last for blowing a whistle to call a meeting of the employees during working hours. This dismissal was the chief and immediate cause of the air-craft strike, though other subsidiary matters were mixed up with the affair. On the 11th July it was announced in the Press that the strike had been settled on the following terms:

 

“That we, the National Woodworkers’ Air-craft Committee, the London District Air-craft Committee, and other representatives of the workers (both metal and wood) hereby pledge the whole of the men and women now in dispute to loyally abide by the decision of the proposed inquiry if Mr. Rock be allowed to start work as soon as the Ministry of Munitions has assumed the effective control of the factory, and that if Rock be acquitted he shall receive compensation from the date of his dismissal from the Alliance Aeroplane Co. Further we hereby recommend an immediate resumption of work at all shops now on dispute.” —(“Daily News,” July 11, 1918. Italics ours.)

 

Note the pledge that we have italicised, to abide by the decision of the proposed inquiry. What was that decision ? According to the Official Report, dated 15th July, 1918, of Mr. Alfred Hopkinson, who was appointed by the Ministry of Labour to hold the inquiry, it was as follows :

 

“15. The calling of this meeting in manner above mentioned was the direct cause of Rock’s dismissal, and I feel bound to report that Rock’s action in the matter was such misconduct as to warrant the immediate termination of the contract of service between him and the company, and that his dismissal was justified.”

Acting on this report the Minister of Munitions issued the following statement to the Press:

 

“In view of the finding that Mr. Rock’s action in the matter was such misconduct as to warrant the immediate termination of the contract of service between him and company, and that his dismissal was justified, the Minister considers it his duty, in accordance with the with the agreement entered into with the responsible trade union officials by which the dispute was settled, to confirm the dismissal of Mr. Rock.” —(“Daily News,” July 23, 1918.)

 

The above decisions completely prove the correctness of our statement. The strikers returned to |work on the pledge of their officials that they would accept the decision of the inquiry. That decision was that the dismissal was justified. On that finding the Minister of Munitions confirmed the dismissal of Rock. Hence the strike failed to save Rock from dismissal.

 

Mr. Rock says he was reinstated on Monday 12, but he does not say of what month. We may suppose he means the 12th of August. The Inquiry Report is dated 15th July, and the Minister’s decision to confirm the dismissal is announced in the Press on 22nd July. We may presume that Mr. Rock received the Minister’s decision somewhere between the two dates. What was his action on receiving this decision ? To accept his dismissal as an accomplished fact and to seek other employment. We are informed that the first firm he applied to refused to let him start, after promising him a job, when they found out who he was. Later he obtained employment in the South-Western district of London. Thus he not only accepted the dismissal, but actually started work with another firm, thereby adding further confirmation to the truth of our statement.

 

Editorial Committee

 

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