Chapter IV

CHAPTER IV

CONSTITUTION

1. -The organisation shall be called the "South Wales Miners' Industrial Organization."

Its Registered Office shall be as Conference decides.

2. -The organisation shall be composed of all workers engaged in, or connected with, the mining industry.

3. -All power of legislation shall remain in the hands of the members, through the lodge and the ballot vote.

4. -The Funds and administration of the organisation shall be centralised, except in so far as is hereinafter provided for.

5. -The administration of the organisation shall be vested in the hands of one Central Executive Council, who shall be elected annually by ballot vote of the members. The method of election to be determined by a conference called for that purpose.

6. -No agent or other permanent official of the Federation, shall be eligible to a seat on the Executive Council.

7. -The President and Vice-President shall be elected by the Executive Council, from amongst its own members. No person shall hold the office of President for more than two years in succession.

8. -Executive Council Meetings shall be held every four weeks, oftener if necessary.

9. -A Joint Delegate Conference of all the Lodges in the organization shall be held monthly, oftener if occasion demands. Conferences to be held alternatively at Cardiff and Swansea. (No new price lists shall be adopted, until formally sanctioned by such Conference).

10. -All agents to be deemed equal in status and paid at similar rates, their duties to be directed from Centre.

11. -Any agent who may be returned a member to Parliament, shall be required to relinquish his industrial duties and position.

12. -No member of Parliament shall be eligible to seek for or retain a seat on a local or National Executive Council.

13. -They shall attend, when requested, meetings of such executive in an advisory capacity.

14. -On all proposed labour legislation Conferences shall be called to discuss same and instruct our M.P.'s.

15. -Any Member of Parliament, as such under the auspices of the organisation, shall at once vacate his seat if a ballot vote of the membership so decides.

CONTRIBUTIONS

16. 1/- per adult member per lunar month, 8d. of which is to go direct to Central Fund, and 4d. to be retained in the Lodge to defray Lodge expenses, and form a local fund.

The Constitution provides the corner-stone of the whole scheme; here is the machinery for a real democriate [sic] organization. Let us examine the principles embodied in it.

1.
-The Lodges have supreme control. -All the initiative for new proposals, policies and tactics, remains with the Lodge. Nothing becomes law in the organisation unless it receives the sanction of the Lodges, or a ballot vote of the coalfield.

2.
-The Executive becomes unofficial. -As has been shown before, democracy becomes impossible, when officials or leaders dominate. For this reason they are excluded from all power on the Executive, which becomes a purely administrative body; comprised of men directly elected by the men for that purpose.

3. -Agents or organisers become the servants of the men, directly under the control of the Executive, and indirectly under the control of the men.

An example

To illustrate the working by a given case, we will take a dispute at a certain colliery. A seam has been opened out, and the employers wish to have a price list fixed upon it. The men consult and decide either to continue working it upon the basis of the minimum wage, or draft a price list which they consider will be of advantage to them. The Executive take up the conduct of the negotiations only when the Lodge has failed locally, or at their request. They have no power to vary the demands of the men. An agent is sent who will have all information relating to this particular seam, and who will be able to detail what conditions obtain in connection with it elsewhere. If he is, as he should be, an expert in negotiation, he obtains the utmost the employers are prepared to concede. If this is satisfactory to the men, well and good, if not he reports back to the Executive, who in conjunction with the Conference decide what action shall be taken. Thus the workmen decide the principle, the Executive carry it out. The agent provides information and negotiates. The Conference finally ratifies or disapproves.

Its effect on Strikes

The effect of the Constitution would abolish sectional strikes. All questions become, under this system, either question of principle, which we are prepared to fight with the whole strength of our organization, or questions which would be fought locally. We cannot afford to use a steam hammer to crack a nut. Grievances are not questions with us so much of numbers as of principles. It might, and probably would be, deemed advisable to have a strike of the whole organization to defend one man from victimisation, or an infraction of the minimum. To-day we can see strikes caused by petty issues which in themselves involve no question of principle, yet throw idle large numbers of men. We must learn to conserve our strength and conduct our fights on principles, not arithmetic. The 5% clause which now obtains is a ridiculous absurdity.

Its effect on Solidarity

The unity of conditions that must necessarily follow, makes solidarity a necessary sequence. The enjoyment of benefits derived from association, makes an atmosphere in which non-unionism cannot live. All of which means the raising the tone of the discussions in the Lodge to questions of wide scope. A sense of responsibility, and a recognition, that the Lodge meetings are the place where things are really done, together with a realization of the importance of the issues involved, will make the Lodges centres of keen and pulsating life sensitive and responsive organs of a great organization.

It will raise the Status of the Workers

By giving them real powers in the Lodge room. It will stimulate every available ounce of intellect to work full pressure. There the workers will learn to legislate for themselves on matters which touch them most closely. This will ensure the organization working all the time, in getting the best possible obtainable conditions.

Posted By

libcom
Apr 9 2005 12:56

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