Chapter V

CHAPTER V

P0LICY

1. -The old policy of identity of interest between employers and ourselves be abolished, and a policy of open hostility installed.

2. -No dispute shall be considered by the Executive Council until after failure is reported by the Lodge affected.

3. -Lodges failing to settle disputes arising in their respective collieries, must immediately report the same to the Secretary, together with all information relative to the cause, and subsequent conduct of the fight.

4. -The Secretary on receipt of such information, must immediately call on the services of an Agent, the three parties to consult together, with a view of arriving at a policy mutually agreeable.

5. -Failing mutual agreement on a policy, the Lodge must be allowed to carry out their own, or the one favoured by them, until rescinded or altered by a Conference, whose decision must be final.

6. -Any dispute not settled within 14 days after its report to the Executive Council, the Council to have power to call a special conference to deal with the same.

7. -Any Lodge desiring to bring any grievance before a Conference, which has not been reported in the usual way, must first receive the sanction of the Business Committee, who must have due regard to its importance.

8. -For the purpose of giving greater strength to Lodges, they be encouraged to join together to form Joint Committees, and to hold joint meetings.

9. -These Committees to have power to initiate and carry out any policy within their own area, unhampered by Agent or Executive Council, so long as they act within their own financial resources.

10. -Lodges should, as far as possible, discard the old method of coming out on strike for any little minor grievance. And adopt the more scientific weapon of the irritation strike by simply remaining at work, reducing their output, and so contrive by their general conduct to make the colliery unremunerative.

11. -Whenever it is contemplated bringing any body of men out on strike, demands must be put forward to improve the status of each section so brought out.

12. -Victimisation of all forms, whether persecuted by being prevented from obtaining work, or prosecution in the courts, to be strenuously resisted, even to the extent of National Action.

13. -That a continua[l] agitation be carried on in favour of increasing the minimum wage, and shortening the hours of work, until we have extracted the whole of the employers' profits.

14. -That our objective be, to build up an organization, that will ultimately take over the mining industry, and carry it on in the interests of the workers.

It will be seen that the policy is extremely drastic and militant in its character, and it is important that this should be so. No statement of principles, however wide, embracing no programme however widely desired, and shrewdly planned; no constitution, however admirable in its structure, can be of any avail, unless the whole is quickened and animated by that, which will give it the breath of life - a militant aggressive policy. For this reason our examination of the policy must be minute and searching. The main principles are as follows:

Decentralization for Negotiating

The Lodges, it will be seen, take all effective control of affairs, as long as there is any utility in local negotiation. With such a policy, Lodges become responsible and self reliant units, with every stimulus to work out their own local salvation in their own way.

Centralization for Fighting

It will be noticed that all questions are ensured a rapid settlement. So soon as the Lodge finds itself at the end its resources, the whole fighting strength of the organisation is turned on. We thus reverse the present order of things, where in the main, we centralize our negotiations and sectionalize our fighting.

The use of the Irritation Strike

Pending the publication of a pamphlet, which will deal in a comprehensive and orderly way, with different methods and ways of striking, the following brief explanation must suffice. The Irritation Strike depends for its successful adoption, on the men holding clearly the point of view, that their interests and the employers['] are necessarily hostile. Further that the employer is vulnerable only in one place, his profits! Therefore if the men wish to bring effective pressure to bear, they must use methods which tend to reduce profits. One way of doing this is to decrease production, while continuing at work. Quite a number of instances where this method has been successfully adopted in South Wales could be adduced. The following will serve as an example:-

At a certain colliery some years ago, the management desired to introduce the use of screens for checking small coal. The men who were paid through and through for coal getting, e.g. for large and small coal in gross, objected, as they saw in this, the thin end of the wedge, of a move to reduce their earnings. The management persisted, and the men, instead of coming out on strike, reduced their output by half. Instead of sending four trams of coal from a stall, two only were filled and so on. The management thus saw its output cut in half, while its running expenses remained the same. A few days experience of a profitable industry turned into a losing one, ended in the men winning hands down. Plenty of other instances will occur to the reader, who will readily see, that production cannot be maintained at a high pressure without the willing cooperation of the workmen, so soon as they withdraw this willingness and show their discontent in a practical fashion, the wheels begin to creak. And only when the employer pours out the oil of his loving kindness, by removing the grievance, does the machinery begin to work smoothly again. This method is useless for the establishment of general principles over the whole industry, but can be used, like the policeman's club, to bring individual employers to reason.

Joint Action by Lodges

The tendency of large meetings is always towards purity of tone and breadth of outlook. The reactionary cuts a poor figure under such circumstances, however successful he may be, when surrounded in his own circle by a special clique.

Unifying the men by unifying demands.

It is intolerable that we should ask men to strike and suffer, if nothing is coming to them when they have helped to win the battle. We have seen many fights in this coalfield, in which all sections of underground workmen were engaged, but only to benefit one section, i.e. on a haulier's or collier's question. We must economize our strength, and see to it that every man who takes part in a fight, receives something, either in improved conditions or wages as his share of the victory.

The Elimination of the Employer

This can only be obtained gradually and in one way. We cannot get rid of employers and slave-driving in the mining industry, until all other industries have organized for, and progressed towards the same objective. Their rate of progress conditions ours, all we can do is set an example and the pace.

Nationalization of Mines.

Does not lead in this direction, but simply makes a National Trust, with all the force of the Government behind it, whose one concern will be, to see that the industry is run in such a way, as to pay the interest on the bonds, with which the Coalowners are paid out, and to extract as much more profit as possible, in order to relieve the taxation of other landlords and capitalists.

Our only concern is to see to it, that those who create the value receive it. And if by the force of a more perfect organization and more militant policy, we reduce profits, we shall at the same time tend to eliminate the shareholders who own the coalfield. As they feel the increasing pressure we shall be bringing on their profits, they will loudly cry for Nationalization. We shall and must strenuously oppose this in our own interests, and in the interests of our objective.

Industrial Democracy the objective

Today the shareholders own and rule the coalfields. They own and rule them mainly through paid officials. The men who work in the mine are surely as competent to elect these, as shareholders who may never have seen a colliery. To have a vote in determining who shall be your fireman, manager, inspector, etc., is to have a vote in determining the conditions which shall rule your working life. On that vote will depend in a large measure your safety of life and limb, of your freedom from oppression by petty bosses, and would give you an intelligent interest in, and control over your conditions of work. To vote for a man to represent you in Parliament, to make rules for, and assist in appointing officials to rule you, is a different proposition altogether.

Our objective begins to take shape before your eyes. Every industry thoroughly organized, in the first place, to fight, to gain control of, and then to administer, that industry. The co-ordination of all industries on a Central Production Board, who, with a statistical department to ascertain the needs of the people, will issue its demands on the different departments of industry, leaving to the men themselves to determine under what conditions and how, the work shall be done. This would mean real democracy in real life, making for real manhood and womanhood. Any other form of democracy is a delusion and a snare.

Every fight for, and victory won by the men, will inevitably assist them in arriving at a clearer conception of the responsibilities and duties before them. It will also assist them to see, that so long as Shareholders are permitted to continue their ownership, or the State administers on behalf of the Shareholders, slavery and oppression are bound to be the rule in industry. And with this realization, the age-long oppression of Labour will draw to its end. The weary sigh of the overdriven slave, pitilessly exploited and regarded as an animated tool or beast of burden: the mediaeval serf fast bound to the soil, and life-long prisoner on his lord's domain, subject to all the caprices of his lord's lust or anger: the modern wageslave, with nothing but his labour to sell, selling that, with his manhood as a wrapper, in the world's market place for a mess of pottage: these three phases of slavery, each in their turn inevitable and unavoidable, will have exhausted the possibilities of slavery, and mankind shall at last have leisure and inclination to really live as men, and not as the beasts which perish.

If these proposals meet with your approval, move the following resolution in your Lodge, to be sent on to District Meeting and Executive Council:

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RESOLUTION

Date..............

That this, the................... Lodge of the ....................................

is in favour of the draft scheme as contained in this pamphlet, *with the following exceptions:-

...........................................................................................

...........................................................................................

and urges its immediate adoption by the Federation.

Signed on behalf of the above Lodge,

....................................... Sec.

*If the scheme is approved as a whole, strike out these words, otherwise mention clauses objected to, as thus, Preamble Clause II., Constitution Clauses, III., V. and VII., etc.

Secretary of Reform Committee W. H. MAINWARING, 3, Llwyncelyn, Clydach Vale, Rhondda, to whom also applications for Speakers, to further explain these proposals, should be sent. Such Speakers would attend for out-of-pocket expenses.

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libcom
Apr 9 2005 12:57

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