50 Years Ago: The Attack on Engineers’ Wages
Finding the workers in retreat on all fronts, the masters have now decided to try a ‘big offensive’ in certain selected industries, with the deliberate intention of continuing this ‘offensive’ in every industry till the standard of the workers as a whole has been forced far below the 1914 level.
For this purpose they have chosen to attack the engineers directly, and allied industry of shipbuilders indirectly.
How can the situation be tested? There is only one way. The organised workers must take united action and hold up industry. It is not a sectional question. The whole of the workers are involved, and if they remain divided, they will be attacked and beaten, in detail by the employers.
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First, the stoppage must not be allowed to drag on indefinitely. If it does not effect its purpose in a short, sharp action, then it will have failed and the men must accept the inevitable for the present.
Second, it must be carried out peaceably. Any attempt at riot or destruction must be sternly repressed, as it would at once give the signal for the use of the armed forces against defenceless men. All nonsense about ‘taking possession of works, etc.,’ must be repudiated or ignored, as that way leads to disaster.
Third, the decisions to come out and go back must be in the hands of the rank and file. No power should be given to leaders—revolutionary or otherwise— to decide these points.
From an unsigned Editorial “The Engineers’ Lock-Out” Socialist Standard April 1922.