WORKMEN THE "BOSSES," "LEADERS" THE SERVANTS
Is it possible to devise such an organization as will bring the above from the realm of the ideal to the realm of practicability? Those responsible for this pamphlet, men who, residing in all parts of South Wales, have given their time and thought to this problem, answer confidently in the affirmative. In these chapters they present their scheme, believing it to be not only possible, but the only practicable form of organization for us to achieve. It is divided into four parts, each of which depends upon the other. They are, the Preamble, which summarizes the needs and indicates the requirements of such an organization. The Programme, which states the objective - immediate and ultimate. The Constitution, which gives the framework in which the real worker's organization shall move, and the policy which illustrates the spirit and tactics of that organization. A careful reading of this chapter will place our scheme squarely and simply before you. Bear in mind when reading and discussing it, the faults and failures of the old form of organization, the abortiveness of all up to the present suggested improvements; and endeavour to realize, as we have done, that a complete alteration in the structure and policy of the organization is imperative.
PREAMBLE TO MANIFESTO
The present deplorable condition of the South Wales Miners' Federation calls imperatively for a summary of the situation, in an endeavour to discover where we stand.
The rapidity of industrial development is forcing the Federation to take action along lines for which there exists no machinery to properly carry out.
The control of the organisation by the rank and file is far too indirect.
The system of long agreements, with their elaborate precautions against direct action, cramp the free expression of the might of the workmen and prevent the securing of improved conditions, often when the mere exhibition of their strength would allow of it.
The sectional character of the organisation in the mining industry renders concerted action almost impossible, and thus every section helps to hinder and often defeat the other. What then is necessary to remedy the present evils?
1. A united industrial organisation, which, recognising the war of interest between workers and employers, is constructed on fighting lines, allowing for a rapid and simultaneous stoppage of wheels throughout the mining industry.
2. A constitution giving free and rapid control by the rank and file acting in such a way that conditions will be unified throughout the coalfield; so that pressure at one point would automatically affect all others and thus readily command united action and resistance.
3. A programme of a wide and evolutionary working class character, admitting and encouraging sympathetic action with other sections of the workers.
4. A policy which will compel the prompt and persistent use of the utmost ounce of strength, to ensure that the conditions of the workmen shall always be as good as it is possible for them to be under the then existing circumstances.
We have endeavoured to suggest methods whereby such an organisation might be formed. Appended will be found our draft proposals. We simply ask that they may receive your earnest consideration, even if you think they do not entirely fit the present situation. We feel sure that they contain suggestions that will help in the solution of some of our most pressing problems.
Comment on Preamble.
This surely explains itself. If anyone disagrees with this, then the scheme itself will be condemned by him. While on the contrary everything in the scheme is contained, in germ, in this Preamble.
One organisation to cover the whole of the Coal, Ore, Slate, Stone, Clay, Salt, mining or quarrying industry of Great Britain, with one Central Executive.
That as a step to the attainment of that ideal, strenuous efforts be made to weld all National, County, or District Federations, at present comprising the Miners' Federation of Great Britain, into one compact organisation with one Central Executive, whose province it shall be to negotiate agreements and other matters requiring common action. That a cardinal principle of that organisation to be: that every man working in or about the mine no matter what his craft or occupation - provisions having been made for representation on the Executive - be required to both join and observe its decisions.
IMMEDIATE STEPS - INDUSTRIAL
1. That a minimum wage of 8/- per day for all workmen employed in or about the mines, constitute a demand to be striven for nationally at once.
2. That subject to the foregoing having been obtained, we demand and use our power to obtain a 7 hour day.
PROGRAMME - POLITICAL
That the organisation shall engage in political action, both local and national, on the basis of complete
independence of, and hostility to all capitalist parties, with an avowed policy of wresting whatever
advantage it can for the working class.
In the event of any representative of the organisation losing his seat, he shall be entitled to, and receive, the full protection of the organisation against victimization.
Alliances to be formed, and trades organisations fostered, with a view to steps being taken to amalgamate all workers into one National and International union, to work for the taking over of all industries, by the workmen themselves.
The Programme is very comprehensive, because it deals with immediate objects, as well as ultimate aims. We must have our desired end in view all the time, in order to test new proposals and policies, to see whether they tend in that direction or not. For example, the working class, if it is to fight effectually must be an army, not a mob. It must be classified, regimented and brigaded, along the lines indicated by the product. Thus, all miners, &c., have this in common, they delve in the earth to produce the minerals, ores, gems, salt, stone, &c., which form the basis of raw material for all other industries. Similarly the Railwaymen, Dockers, Seamen, Carters, etc., form the transport industry. Therefore, before an organised and self-disciplined working class can achieve its emancipation, it must coalesce on these lines.
It will be noticed that nothing is said about Conciliation Boards or Wages Agreements. The first two chapters will, however, have shown you that Conciliation Boards and Wages Agreements only lead us into a morass.
As will be seen when perusing the policy and constitution, the suggested organisation is constructed to fight rather than to negotiate. It is based on the principle that we can only get what we are strong enough to win and retain.
The great merit of the minimum wage, is that it makes conciliation unnecessary. A man either receives the minimum or he does not. There is nothing to conciliate or negotiate upon. There is further in the minimum wage two diverse tendencies. On the men's side it will tend, as the organization developes [sic] its power, for the minimum to be so increased as to become the maximum possible to be earned on the price lists. On the employers' side the tendency will perforce always be to offer some inducement to the men, to earn something above the minimum, in order to expedite production and thus maintain profits.
There is little need to dilate upon the proposal for a seven-hour day, conditional as it is upon the minimum wage being obtained. To those, however, who would still be earning (on the price list) wages above the minimum, it may be pointed out that this would supply the necessary stimulus for further increases in the minimum. Reductions of hours have always antedated increases in wages. The operation of the Eight Hours Act will supply an instance. This present struggle for a minimum wage is a direct outcome of that Act.
Political action must go on side by side with industrial action. Such measures as the Mines Bill, Workmen's Compensation Acts, proposals for nationalising the Mines, etc., demand the presence in Parliament of men who directly represent, and are amenable to, the wishes and instructions of the workmen. While, the eagerness of Governments, to become a bludgeoning bully on behalf of the employers, could be somewhat restrained by the presence of men who were prepared to act in a courageous fashion.