1940s >> 1949 >> no-540-august-1949

Editorial: The Attitude of the London Dockers

The action of London dockers in coming out on strike over two ships that were concerned in a dispute originating on the other side of the Atlantic is a gesture that must be applauded by all those interested in the solidarity of labour. Whatever the merits of the dispute these London men were prepared to make sacrifices in a cause that had no direct influence on their own wages and conditions of labour. It is this aspect of the dispute that is heartening to socialists as it is one of the harbingers of that wider and more pregnant solidarity that will herald the triumph of Socialism. This particular strike has occurred at a time when prominent trade unionists and all the Labour Governments, including the Russian, are stressing the importance of nationalism.

It is true that trade union internationalism is a long way from the internationalism in which socialists are interested but it still expresses, even if at times unconsciously, a recognition of the identity of the workers’ interests all over the world as opposed to the interests of the international capitalist class.

The attitude of the dockers is in striking contrast to the views of the Government. Whereas the dockers were, in their action, giving expression to an international outlook the Government’s is almost entirely national as witness the following statement by the Attorney-General, Sir Hartley Shawcross:

    “These unofficial strikes are an act of economic treason to our trade unions, to the Socialist movement and indeed to our country.” (News Chronicle, 14/7/49.)

As “our country” does not belong to us but to those who own the means of production and distribution, the Labour Government definition of “economic treason” is one that should not worry the dockers or any other workers. The fact that it has not done so in the present dispute is one that must give satisfaction to the socialist.

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