Editorial: The Bus Strike

It may seem that a strike lasting nearly seven weeks was a high price for the busmen to pay for the relatively small gains they made in the shape of some increase of pay for the men outside central London who at the start were excluded entirely from the offer of 8s. 6d. increase: though even this was noteworthy in face of the adamant attitude of the London Transport Executive. But the heartening demonstration of working class solidarity by the central London men will have achieved much more. The employers and the government were looking at the busmen’s struggle as a test case for the wage claims in other, larger, industries. Having seen the hundred per cent, solid strike, they will take note that there is a degree of determination behind the claims that they did not expect

The T.U.C. comes out of it badly. Having given verbal encouragement to the busmen’s claim they were too timid to face the prospect of extending the strike and limited their help to an appeal for financial assistance.

The Government cleverly applied their old class principle, “divide and rule,” by detaching the railwaymen from possible involvement in the dispute, with a 3 per cent. wage increase, to be paid for through redundancies and economies. (Readers should turn to another column to see what this journal was saying about Railway Nationalisation 50 years ago.)

Sir John Elliot, chairman of London Transport, showed that a nationalised industry behaves just like employers generally. He was, as he said, being tough, and was apparently prepared to see the buses off the streets till Christmas in order to win. Simultaneously, he announced further contraction of bus services, because they don’t pay their way.

Taken all in all the bus strike was a complete demonstration in tangible, painful form, for everyone to see, that under its thin disguise of “Welfare,” capitalism has not changed from what it always was, a hard, ruthless social system in which the workers are expected to take what capitalism offers and be beaten down if they try to get more.

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