1940s >> 1941 >> no-449-december-1941

Notes By The Way: Should Women Have Equal Pay with Men?

Should Women Have Equal Pay with Men?
The propaganda of the organisations which favour equal pay for men and women doing the same job has made much progress recently and a poll organised by the British Institute of Public Opinion showed a majority of over two-thirds in favour. (News-Chronicle, November 17th, 1941.)

The main reason for the change of attitude this poll indicates is, however, not propaganda, but the fact that under war conditions there is a limitless demand for women’s labour. As the Economist says: “. . . temporarily, at any rate, the war has done the reformers’ work for them. The demand for women workers has increased; and the number of occupations into which they are eagerly admitted is growing. But in spite of the greatly increased number of women coming forward, there is still a shortage . . .”—(Economist, November 29th, 1941.)

It should not be imagined that the propaganda for equal pay is new. It was in full swing 40 years ago and was, for example, commented on in The Socialist Standard for December, 1904. Apart from the war-time demand for women workers the problem has only changed in the past 40 years in one respect, that there are now a larger number of occupations in which it is normal for women to be employed. The claim that the job should carry the same pay whether done by a man or a woman is still a mere tinkering with the real problem of the working class, both men and women. Short of getting rid of the wages system and the employing class, as under Socialism, the whip-hand is always that of the employing class. They will always seek what is for their particular concern the cheapest labour and will always use unemployment as a lever to force down wages towards the minimum of subsistence. The advocates of equal pay who imagine that the acceptances of the principle by the employers will make any material change are overlooking the easy loophole it provides. If an employer accepts the principle of equal pay for a certain grade of work and then finds that there are plenty of unemployed women able and willing to do the job for a lower wage, all he has to do is to take all the men off that work. The work then becomes a purely woman’s job, and the principle of equal pay ceases to have any application.

Douglasites Repudiate Douglas
The following paragraph appeared in the Daily Telegraph (November 17th, 1941): —

   Three persons have been excommunicated this weekend by the Green Shirts. They are Major C. H. Douglas, who invented Social Credit, the Dean of Canterbury and the Duke of Bedford.
This information I obtain from The Message from Hargrave, the weekly sheet of foolscap expounding the views of the “Social Credit Party of Great Britain,” which I have been receiving since I announced, last July, that Mr. Augustus John had become a Green Shirt.
I read that the Social Credit Party repudiated the “authority and directives” of Major Douglas in July, 1938. He is now once more repudiated for “confusing his own economic logic by developing an anti-Semitic propaganda.”
Dr. Hewlett Johnson’s excommunication is for becoming that “quite ridiculous thing—a Christian Bolshevik.” The Duke of Bedford, who, as I read, is even better known than the dean for his advocacy of Social Credit, is placed under the ban for his out-and-out advocacy of the views he holds on the war.


Under-Feeding Among Edinburgh Workers
The Weekly Scotsman (July 5th, 1941) summarises the result of a recent inquiry into the income and expenditure of a number of families on the ”unskilled labourer” level of income.

  Out of 75 families whose food bill was investigated, only 8 were spending enough to buy an adequate diet. From various causes none of the families was in fact getting a diet adequate in every respect. There are figures of the large slice of their income which some families spend on hire purchase or sickness and burial insurance. Over half the families were living beyond their incomes and running into debt; in particular, “it was found that a high percentage of Service families were in part dependent upon hospitality from relations.”


Restrictions on Political Propaganda
On November 27th, 1941, the News-Chronicle published the following: —


                                                        POLITICS BANNED.
   While the war is on, politics are to be banned in the factories (writes the Labour Correspondent).
   The T.U.C. has agreed with the Government that political parties shall not be allowed to propagate their policies inside the establishments of private firms, as well as Government factories and dockyards.


    This does not apply to trade union meetings.
Probably, though it is not stated, the justification offered for this ban is that political discussions interfere with output.


A Question to Federal Unionists
Reviewing a book (“Scum of the Earth,” by Arthur Koestler), Mr. A. J. P. Taylor, writing in the Manchester Guardian, puts a pertinent question to supporters of Federal Union. Koestler, who supports Federal Union, had recounted some of the brutalities he witnessed in French and Spanish jails. Mr. Taylor asks: —


   “Koestler believes in European Union. Why should the police of the Union be any improvement on Koestler’s French or Spanish gaolers . . . ? In short, why should European Union—even if it ended wars—end man’s inhumanity to man?”

It is a good point because it brings out one of the fallacies of Federal Union. Is the world out of joint because of the way frontiers are drawn or because of the existence of a class-divided society, with oppression of one class by another, behind each frontier?


Socialists carry Mr. Taylor’s question further and ask whether Federal Union will end wars or only alter and enlarge the frontiers of the warring powers.


Echoes of the People’s Convention
It is an old saying that new converts are more zealous than old believers. The People’s Convention since its overnight conversion to war on the night of June 22nd is now a whole-hogger.


   The Peoples Convention, which in January wanted immediate peace and an appeal to the German people over Hitler’s head, now presses for intensified war effort and. the creation of a second front.
At an Anglo-Soviet rally in Friends’ House, Euston Road, London, yesterday, every utterance in favour of our more active participation in the war was loudly cheered.
“We are letting the golden days go past,” said Dr. Hewlett Johnson, Dean of Canterbury.
“If we had invaded the Continent in June the Dneiper Dam would still be working and Russia would have retained most of her lost industries. We have lengthened the war immeasurably.”—(“Sunday Express,” November 2nd, 1941.)

Mr. Pollitt, in his new role, writes as follows : —


   Russia is working, fighting and dying in a manner unknown in world history. So must we in Britain. So we can in Britain if the Government sets out to command the unstinted support of the people by proving by every one of its actions that Russia and Britain are in a real alliance, in which we take our full share and make the same sacrifices that the victory over Hitler is demanding. —(“Workers’ News.”)


Communists Support for Conservative Candidates
The Communists have a simple faith : Whatever the Russian Government does is right, whether it be Pacts with Hitler or war with Hitler. Whatever helps the Russian Government is right, whether it be denouncing the Labour Party for associating with Conservatives or voting for Conservatives.


Viewed thus there is no inconstancy in the recent Communist support for Conservative candidates at Lancaster and Hampstead. At Lancaster, where the National Conservative candidate was opposed by an Independent Liberal and by Mr. Fenner Brockway of the I.L.P., “a Communist deputation visited the Conservative campaign headquarters in Lancaster this afternoon and offered to work for the return of Mr. Maclean, the National Government candidate.”—(Daily Telegraph, October 14th, 1941.)


At Hampstead there were four candidates, all with the same policy, vigorous prosecution of the war and aid for Russia. The Communists supported the official Conservative candidate, Flying Officer Charles Challen, who won the seat.


An interesting sidelight on the Lancaster election was the statement made by the I.L.P. candidate to the Manchester Guardian : —


   Mr. Brockway himself told the writer that a number of Labour voters who did not wholly accept his views about the war had told him they would vote for him for “old acquaintance sake ” and as a protest against “too much Toryism in the House of Commons.”


Edgar Hardcastle