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Newspaper Page Text
FRIDAY, SEPT. 10, 1920
to meet any sudden attack on their rights either
in the form of a Capitalist attack on their in
dustrial organisations or the outbreak of a war.
Each group of workers within any industry
are isolated from other groups within the same
industry, while a wide chasm separates the work
ers of one industry from another. The working
class split up into separate compartments, with
out a common organisation or a common will, is
an easy prey to its enemies during a time of
The advantage of workshop organisation.
If the workers are to be able to wage indu
strial and social war efficiently, then all groups
of workers within an industry have got to he
brought into the same organisation. While they
are separated the resisting powers of Labour to
any encroachment of Capitalism will be very
weak indeed. The task is not an easy one. We
are asked to overcome craft loyalties which have
become instinctive, and widen them into the
greater loyalty to class. In this struggle practice
plays a greater part than precept. Avd that is
where the value of the fighting Workers' Com
mittees becomes apparent. There are Workers'
Committees and Workers' Committees, of course.
There is an abortion bearing that honourable
name in Weirs' of Oathcart, which seems to
think that its principle business is to prostrate
itself before the management on every possible
occasion. Such committees only g. to show how
deep the taint of servility is in the blood of some
members of the working class.
The kind of Workers' Committee that we
have in mind is a committee composed of rebels
who are not afraid to break through Trade Union
usages, and who are determined to link up to
gether skilled, semi-skilied, and unskilled workers
for common action against the boss. Such a com
mittee would be able to show the value of soli
darity in practice, and could turn the workers'
minds in the direction of striving for uniting all
the unions in a given industry into an all-embracing'
industrial organization, with its unit no:
in a geographical branch, holding meetings in
some small smoke-poliuted hall up a back street,
but in the workers assembling to transact their
industrial affairs on the workshop floor.
To-day it is almost impossible to get working
class opinion and action on a given question
speedily. Some unions hold their meetings once
a week, some once a fortnight, and some once a
month. Those meeting? are attended by a more
handful of the membership, the bulk of whom
are never in contact with union affairs except
when they are paying t heir weekly contribution
to the slioi) steward. On the other hand work
shop organisation brinprs the bread masses of the
workers into intimate contact with matters ap
pertaining to their industrial welfare, and assists
in creating amongst the masses an outlook antag
onistic to Capitalism.
The mere fact that the foundation of the or
ganisation is on the job enables it possibly to call
the membership together quickly under the
leadership of the active spirits, when quick de
cisions can be come to. Under the eyes of his
mates even the workshop belly-crawler betrays
a glimmer of latent manhood, and decisions ar
rived at this way generally reflect the best that
is in the workers.
The Industrial Union in the transition period.
For those who are inclined to pooh-pooh all
attempts at better organisation, and who pin their
faith on a spontaneous coming together on the
morrow of the revolution, we would respectfully
point to the tremendous part industrial organisa
tion will play in the building up of a Socialist
industrial structure. In the struggles of the Rus
sian Revolution far too much attention has
been paid to the part played by the political
Soviets, and insufficient attention to the construc
tive work of the great Industrial Unions, who are
possibly playing the greatest part of all.
. Wc hope in the near future to publish .a de
tailed account of their constructive work. In tho
meantime let it be noted that their structure is
akin to that which we are advocating in this
country. The following descriptions of them will
make that clear.
"In constructing their organisation the Rus
sian Trade Unions took advantage of the nega
tive and positive experiences of Western Europe,
and in the first days of their birth in 1905 they
began to organise, not according to trades, but
according to industries." , ,
"The 2nd Congress laid it down that an in
dustrial union is a union having the following
1) Uniting all the workers and employees of