1960s >> 1969 >> no-775-march-1969

50 Years Ago: Labour Unrest

The Shipbuilders and Repairers of the Thames are on strike for a 15s increase, while the Miners are balloting as to whether they shall strike to enforce their claims of a 6-hour day, 30 per cent on wages, and nationalisation of the mines.

It is a favourite dodge of capitalist heads to lay the cause of these actions of the workers on “Bolshevik agitators”. But one simple fact puts this nonsense out of court. If the unrest was due to any organised agitation, clearly it would have one object or set of objects and follow a co-ordinated policy to obtain them.  . . .

A calm examination of the situation will reveal that the main factors behind the great unrest are, the high cost of living and, of greater importance, the dread of increase in the large amount of unemployment already existing with the further demobilisation of soldiers and closing down of various Government departments.

Not until the working class own and control the means of production and distribution will they be able to adjust the hours of labour to the requirements of society and the number able to work. To do this they must first understand and accept the principles of Socialism, then set to work to establish it by organising to take control of political power for the purpose of wresting the means of life from the hands of the master class. Only then will the “unrest” disappear — through its cause being abolished.

[From an article—Labour Unrest—by Jack Fitzgerald in the Socialist Standard, March 1919].