Lastly, the reliability of unemployment returns as an index to industrial activity has been affected by the economy of effort and labour, which is one of the outstanding features of post-war industrial reorganisation. There is little doubt that post-war methods of manufacture aim at increasing output while actually decreasing the number of men engaged in production. That most of the workers so displaced will find employment in new industries does not minimise the significance of the possibility that, if the present tendency continues manufacturing, as opposed to marketing, finance, and other commercial activities, will in the future make progressively decreasing demands on the population, and in that sense will play a smaller part as a contributor to the general prosperity. (Our Italics.)
ROBOT BANK CLERKS
Will there be fewer openings for junior clerks in our large banks, owing to the ever-increasing efficiency of the ledger-posting, exchange-reckoning automatic devices being introduced? One of the latest of these devices is an American ledger-posting machine which writes out customers’ bank balances in their pass-books and posts the amount of credit and debit.
Under the new system a girl can do the work of two or three men. One of the largest London Banks is doing all its complicated exchange conversions by machine, and all foreign currencies can be turned into pounds sterling by turning a handle. A British machine for ledger-posting is being used at Lloyds’ head office, and nearly all bank branches are saving hours every week by up-to-date machines.
Mr. James Rowan, general secretary of the Electrical Trades Union, in his monthly report to the members, writes that the most remarkable feature of the past year has been the heavy production on the one hand in most of the staple industries, and on the other the large percentage of unemployment in the same industries. Shipbuilding in 1928 produced a tonnage in excess of all previous years, except 1922, yet so great has been the progress of labour-saving devices that the percentage of unemployed in shipbuilding districts never seems to have gone below 10 per cent., and in many cases had reached 20 per cent., and even 25 per cent.
In the engineering section much the same state of things has prevailed. The motor section had a great year, and certainly there was a boom in electrical engineering.
Noting this, and while again noting there has been a record output both in volume and value, the percentage of engineers unemployed has been remarkably high. In all the productive sections of industry the same remarks apply. To think that at the end of a year of such enhanced production it should leave us with about two millions of the workable population redundant, is something that casts a very grave reflection on the powers that be. If this is the result of rationalisation, so far as it has gone, then it seems rationalisation has gone mad.
I do not suppose anybody will contradict my statement that the Government till is empty, or that the farmers are in a deplorable state. Mr. Cassidy, Labour Member for Donegal, made this remarkable statement in the “Dail” some weeks ago: “Unemployment and destitution prevail, thousands of farmers are in the state of poverty, thousands of fishermen are destitute, and nothing is being done for them. I think it is indeed strange that the Government should have given a thousand pounds to the Royal Zoological Society for the keep of wild animals while at the same time they refuse to keep human beings in the country.”
A Labour Government would bring new life and hope to the workers, would increase faith in trade unionism, and thus would lead us nearer to Socialism. Therefore I regret the actions of any party or sections that start new unions, or that endanger the return of a Labour Government. This is my view after an active life of many years in the Trade Union and Socialist Movement. No doubt I shall be called reactionary, a compromiser, etc., etc., by the Communists in particular. I want every reader to become an active Trade Unionist, and control his own destiny, believing Socialism is our only hope.
The National Left Wing Committee meeting, held in London last week-end, decided by ten votes to one that the Left Wing Movement as a national organisation should be dissolved. It was emphasised that this decision does not mean the cessation of Local Left Wing activities, which should continue on the basis of local united front committees and workers’ electoral committees, their work based on concrete issues before the workers. The decision was made after thorough and frank discussion, in which two points were strongly urged as making continuance of the organisation impossible.
The first point was that the Birmingham conference political and organisational decisions have made it hopeless to turn the Labour Party into a working-class party. The “loyalty” resolution now makes Left Wing work in the Labour Party impossible.
The second point emphasised was that the continuation of the National Left Wing movement in its present form involves the danger of a new Party which would be detrimental to the interests of the working class. The resolution adopted advised all Left Wing workers who desire to carry on a fight for Socialism that they can best do so by joining the Communist Party, now fighting alone for full emancipation of the workers.