Trade Unions—Sick Benefit Clubs

 Clyne’s Confession

    Mr. J. R. Clynes, speaking at Southport on Saturday in support of the benevolent fund established by the local branch of the National Union of General Municipal Workers, said he thought the trade union was the proper organisation through which the spirit of benevolence that was in most of them should work. Many people were under the impression that trade unions existed only for making mischief, that they were always trying to stir up discontent. There could be no greater delusion than that. If trade unions did not exist we would have a condition of mob law.
    His answer to those who grumbled about the work of trade unions was that 6d. out of every 10d. subscribed to trade unions went back again to those who paid it in the form of benevolent benefits of innumerable kinds. Most of the money contributed to trade unions, amounting to £5,000,000 a year, was not spent on strikes or even in support of men in lockouts. It was not spent in fighting employers, but in sick benefit, in out-of-work pay, in supplementing the money workmen received as compensation during periods of injury. It was a pity the press did not give more attention to that side of trade union activity. If they did anything wrong it at once got into the papers; it had its news value. But they could live an absolutely perfect faultless life and would never be mentioned.
    —(“Manchester Guardian,” November 2, 1925.)

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