50 Years Ago: To busmen—and others
By the time this issue of the SOCIALIST STANDARD is in print the Busmen and Railwaymen may have got the pay increases they claimed, or they may be preparing for strike action. In either event we wish them well, as we always do when workers take realistic action to get something more out of their employers. We say that the action should be realistic; it should be taken after due consideration, by the workers concerned, of the chances of success, for there are occasions when strike action has been a battle lost before it was fought. There is, however, no reason to think that the situation facing the busmen and railwaymen at the present time is such an occasion. The controlling body of both sections of the nationalised transport industry say they can’t pay more and won’t pay more, and that strikes will only drive more people permanently away from using trains and buses, but it looks, to an outside view, better to test the situation now than to defer it, even though no doubt the growth of unemployment in recent months has already made the situation rather less favourable than it was. ( . . .)
As Socialists we have something more to say to our fellow workers who make wage claims than merely to wish them well; we ask them to look beyond strikes over wages, and by that we do not mean that we advise them to look to Nationalisation or Labour Government to help them. The Transport industry is already nationalised, without that change having done anything for Busmen and Railwaymen. Remember, too, that the Government policy of “wage restraint”—persuading you not to press for higher wages when conditions are more or less favourable—was in full force under the Attlee Labour Government and will be continued by any future Labour government.
What we ask you to do, in your own interest, is to consider the case for Socialism. If you do you will discover things that may surprise you. You will find out how Socialism will spare you the necessity of striking over wages, for Socialism involves the abolition of the wages system in its entirety. It also involves the abolition of capitalism with its continuing poverty, slumps and wars. Socialism should be your concern as well as ours.
(Socialist Standard, May 1958)