Labour Notes. NO PROFITEERINC IN EXPORT COALI The international joint sub-committee of the Trades Union Congress and the Labour Party, sit its meeting in London last week, considered reports it had received regarding the economic -conditions of Central Europe. The committee adopted a resolution recording its opinion that in Jview of the economic distress in Europe the entire export trade in coal should be placed in the hands of the Supreme Economic Council to ensure the fair distribution of export coal accord- ing to each nation's needs, aind in order to pre- vent profits heing made out of the necessities of the European peoples. COVERNMENT CONSPIRACY REVEALED. In previous notes in this News Service ex- amples have been given from time to time of significant happenings such as the enrolment of professional men als potential strike-breakers, the suppression of the Police Union, and so on :all of them tending to prove the existence of a conspiracy against Trade linion-isni. Labour leaders in the House of Commons have several times during this year been compelled to record their grave suspicion of the Government's atti- tude. This week the cat has been let out of the bag. In his speech at the Guildhall lie sa-id that ever since February the Government has been pre- paring for a fight with the Unions. ow, in view of this statement, it is no longer necessary to prove thait Sir Auckland or Sir Eric -or any ■other Geddes, forced this strike upon the rail- waymen, for it is as as daylight that if the Government beginning in February worked up and perfected a strike-breaking organisation throughout the spring and the summer, it was mevitable that tiiey would force a strike the mo- ment their organisation was complete. It is the fjld argument of armaments over again. If It-lie- (illvernmeot, so to speak, armed themselves to the teeth of prepare for a possible war, it soon became an inevitable war, and from that it was <only a step to choosing the most favourable mo- ment for smashing Trade Unionism. The evidence is too strong to be disregarded, and moderate weekly papers like the "New Statesman," have been forced to the same con- clusion, namely, that ever since the early spring, the Government- of the country was conspiring gainst Trade Unionism and that the railwaymen "Only happen to be the first to receive the attack. STANDARDISATION. 1 l. 1. Negotiations are now to go oil between ine Government and the railwaymen on the question of Standardisation. At the present time there ;are over a hundred grades of railwaymen on each railway, scores of railways, and dozens of •classes within (>anh grade. The result is a mul- tiplicity of wages rates amounting to chaos. The proposal is that conditions sliall he equalised as between* Railway and Railway that the multi- plicity of grades shall be scrapped in favour of .-a few well-marked grades, and that the number -of classes within these grades shall be made as ■small as possible. That is to say, instead of a 'chaos of rates which gave every opportunity for sweating on the part of the less scrupulous rail- way directors, the N. U .R. are now demanding ■an approximation towards equality for men the same work, and are thus moving to- wards the principle of the standard rate. In this demand the good wishes of every Trade "Union that knows t-he value of standard rates goes with them. SHALL SHIPS BE UNCONTROLLED? .1 There is at the momenrta tremendous cam- paign in progress amongst shipowners and Cham- bers of Commerce, who get rid, of even the meagre amount of Government control which is still in existence. Resolutions from Cardiff and the North of England amongst other places ap- pear prominently in The Times" demanding the cessation of all forms of control. This policy should be verv carefully watched by Labour men. The supply of British tonnage is s-till not in the least equal to the demand and the cessation of control means that shipping freights and there- fore shipping profits would immediately rise, if Mot to the scandalous levels of 1916, still to a verv considerable extent. The Times" re- marks that under control some ownerships are placed in a position to eer-n considerably more than others through no merit of their own." Presumably The Times prefers the good old of 1916 when every owner earned consider- ably more than he had any right to expect through no fault of his own, but this is not a position which will recommend itself to Labour )nieii. WHAT ABOUT COMPULSORY ARBITRA- TION? The strike of ironfounders stIll continues, and there is no sign of any weakening on the men's part. It is, however, interesting to notice that the Cleveland Iron Market at any rate is not worried about the strike, for according to "Com- mon Sense," most foundries in that district were working on a very slioi-t supply of pig-iron and -are welcoming the chance of laying up big stocks. This seems to suggest that certain em- ployers deliberately provoked a crisis to suit their own book. Now the employers are ,sug- gesting that they will not concede the men's tie- mands unless the men will submit to compulsory arbitration in the future. This suggestion is also being made by employers in other industries, in fact, in nearly all industries covered by the Wages (Temporary Regulations) Act. This is a move which should be very carefully watched by :all Trade Unionists. OVERTIME BRIBES. The Wooloombing employees are balloting on an offei- made by fTte employers to increase the wages paid in that industry subject to the Unions agreeing to work overtime. The maxi- mum overtime permitted is five hours weekly on the day tum and seven, hours weekly on the j night turn, and any poerative who works up to the maximum of overtime required by the firm is to receive a special bonus in addition to the ordinary overtime rates. The increased wages are to slide up and down according to the Gov- ernment figures, showing the increase in the cost of living and the overtime agreement is to run until the end of September as a minimum. SHARP PRACTICE IN AGRICULTURE. Our readers will remember that rthe negotia- tions of the Industrial Council with the Gov- ernment on the hours question have been hung up for some time, chiefly. because the Govern- ment refuse to include agricultural workers in its Fortv-eight Hour Week Bill. The Agricul- tural Wages Board, however, decided to reduce the labourers' hloursf of work to fifty in summer and forty in winter, which was, at all events, something. But now we learn that the farmers are going all out for a strike against this new order, and are even hoping to increase the hours of their workers to the scandalously long ones that were worked before the war. In this they are backed up by no less a person than Lord Lee of Farebam, who, as Mr. Rowland Protliero, made such a mess of the Corn Production Act. The farmers say that they have the support of the Prime Mmiater and the Government in this course, and from all we know of Lloyd George and his supporters it seems only too likely that this is the case.. Certainly it seems only too likely that tkis is the case. Certainly the agn- ,cizituml -unions, who are far stfonger tham they have ever been before, will have something to say to this, but it is a case where the backing of the whole of organised labour will be needed. First, we have the attempt to reduce wages, which led to the railway strike, and now the ta- tempt to increase hours of labour. What has Labour got to say about it ? THE RAILWAY STRIKE AND ITS MORAL. Pne railway istrike-oner of the greatest up- heanlls in industrial matters that we have ever had in this country—has now finished with what on a. balance of considerations must be con- sidered a substantial victory for the men. The issues at stake concerned more than the railway- men. They affected t'he whole of organised la- bour, and had the railwaymen been defeated it would have meant a reduction sooner or later of wages in every trade. The facit that the reduc- tion could not have taken effect for several months does not matter; the principle of reduc- tion would have been settled once and for all. It is now necessary for the other unions to con- sider very seriously their own position, particu- larly in view of the coming to an end of the Wages (Temporary Regulation) Act next month. It is clear that every union must be prepared to put the utmost pressure on the Government to extend that Act for at least another period of twelve months. Besides this, the unions are beginning to realise that the con- solidation of war advances into permanent wage rates must be. accomplished without delay. In this connection it is well to note that the cost of living is not likely to fall in the immediate future, but that, on the contrary, the Ministry of Food states with conviction that it is bound to rise. WHY CLOTHING IS DEAR. I In spite of the recent hints 111 the Press that the prices of clothing were coming down, textile companies are still enjoying a re-cord boom. Ac- cording to Mr. Frederick W. Tatersall (says The Financier") a table of fifty reports of Lancashire cotton-spinning companies s'hows that all the companies have made a distribution to shareholders, and in no case has the dividend been less than 10 per cent. One company has paid a dividend at the rate of 120 per cent., and anot her at the rate of 80 per cent. Three con- cerns (have paid 40 per cent., five 30 per cent., three 2o per cent., twenty-three 20 per cent., six 15 per cent., and eight 10 per cent. These figures reveal an. astonishing .state of prosperity, but they do not seem to exhaust the resources of these fortunate companies, for we read that. in addition, certain companies are paying calls out of past profits. For instance, a bonus call of 20s. a share is being paid by the Haugh Mill at Newliey and t'he New Ladyhouse Mill at Milnrow, whilst the Newhev Ring Mill is increasing its paid-up capital by 30s. a share out of profits. And finally, in case we should be inclined to think that these figures are exceptional., we are assured that, although those are probably the best figures ever recorded, it is expected that they will be exceeded by the companies that take stock at the end of December. RESTRICTION OF OUTPUT. It is not often that we come across such a naive revelation of the uses of restriction of out- put as this we quote from the annual report of the Anglo-Java Rubber and Produce Company: Owing to the large reduction of output in con- sequence of the oompany's ",adhesion to the Rub- ber Growers' Association scheme for restriction of rubber production for the year 1918, and the Ion prices ruling during this period, the direc- tors regret that they are unable to recommend a dividend." For the previous year the total dividend was I Ii} per cent., and at first we are inclined to sympathise with the shareholders. But the Chairman has a word of comfort for them. He offers them a. substantial bonus, equal to 20 per cent., and holds out hope of an interim dividend in the near future. So perhaps they will not have long to wait before the far-sighted policy of their directors begins to bear fruit in the shape of higher prices and higher dividends than before. TRADE UNIONISM IN GIBRALTAR. I A mass meeting of workmen in Gibraltar have voted unanimously in favour of forming a branch of the General Workers' Union, with a view to undertaking a campaign to increase wages, reduce the cost of living and improve their economic status. The movement was started by a deputation' of tihe Gibraltar work- men who were sent to London to enlist the help of the Workers' Union. They interviewed Mr. George Dallas, and he arranged for one of the Union organisers, Mr. Gilecl to visit the Rock. There are about 12,000 workers in Gibraltar, English and native, and the new branch will be open to both without any colour bar or any sort of inequality as between the races. In Gibraltar the cost. of living is a.s high as in England, and the workers are further penalised by the low rate of exchange for English money, in which their wages are paid. Attention is also to be given to the excessively long hours worked by s'hop assistants, and it is hoped to get the civil servants to join the Union. WHAT THE BELGIAN MINERS WANT. I The miners of Belgium, at their national con- gress in Brussels, have declared strongly in fa- vour of mines nationalisation. They have de- manded that the Government shall make no new conwssions or allow any extension of existing mining areas, and shall as speedily as possible nationalise the two new coalfields of Camping and Hainaut, with compensation, for the owners they proposed the setting up of a system of ad- ministration composed of representatives of the State, the consumers and the miners. The con- gress also demanded a minimum wage, and eight- hour day, amd pensions for aged miners. It was decided to ballot the miners on the question of a general strike in November, if these demands were not conceded. Delegates advocated a new fca-m of strike, proposing a. suspension of work on Mondays and Tuesdays in each week instead of a general stoppage.
The Welsh Regiment Re-Union I TO THE EDITOR. I Dear Sir,—May we beg the hospitality of your columns to make known. the above? It is proposed to hold a re-union of all who served during the war with the 5th Welsh Regiment on Thursday 23rd October, at Pontypridd. A memorial service will be held at 4.30 p.m. at the English Congregational Church, Pontypridd, and to this service relatives and friends are in- vitea. A meal (free) will afterwards be provided at the Drill Hall, followed by a smoking concert. Admission to the Drill Hall will be. by ticket only, and will be restricted to Members of the Regiment. Uniform or civilian clothes may be worn. Applications for tickets should be sent imme- diately to Captain Idwal Jones, 14 Llantwit Road, Treforest, giving regimental number, rank, name and address. Will bandsmen and buglers, willing to take part and attend rehear- sals mention this in their replies?—Yours faith- fully. I W. D. PHILLIPS, TAout-W. W. DOWDESWELL, Major. D. COPE HARRIS, Major.
I An Awakening Nation. I JUDGE AND NEWSPAPERS DISCUSS I CURRENCY EVILS. WHAT MARX SAID AND WHY. I BY JOHN BARR. I tli,,ii- wild cat schemes for national salvation are finding their cause in a very parlous condition, and the fact that the conventional press are all at sea on the whole question was never better illus- trated than during the last week. The South Wales Echo" treats us to a re- print of whatt it considers to be a common-sense view of the economic position presented by a correspondent in a contemporary who signs him- self Anti-Jacobin." The writer is obviously in such a hurry to impress us with the idea that strikes are futile, higher wages being useless, that he unconsciously, let- us hope, drops the foIJoii-iiig geni:- But, says someone, if my wages were doubled and prices kept at the present level, I should ihavo so much left over to buy other things with. What other things? You can buy what exists, but even if you buy you can- not have what does not exast. The world's stocks of those commodities of which we all stand in need—food, clothing, fuel, houses, 4 domestic utensils, etc.—only exist in limited quantity. Assuming scarcity, although a 'look round our well-stocked emporiums makes it very difficult, we are of (course to understand that higher wages and less profits would not give the workers a better share in distribution. Drivel of this type has to be sustained, so we are prepared to find later the view that— The inflation of the currency, in so far as It. s a fact-, is not the cause, or at all events it is only a minor cause, of high prices. The following morning Mr. Justice Astbury w rite's a letter to the Times;" oil "The Nation and Its Liabilities," advocating a tax on capital, in the course of which he says:— If the country had foreseen the length and cost of the war from its commencement and the sacrinces it was going to involve, the right and prudent course, as far as ifnance is con- cerned, Mould have been to have provided by legislation that no one, whether capitalist or worker should make any profit out of the war. Instead of this, however, great fortunes have been made by exploiting the needs and neces- sities of the State during the last five or six years, and before any capital levy is made it seems onljr fair and reasonable that so much of such gains as represents unearned war in- crement should be restored to the State. This restoration, would bring in a large sum to the exchequer, and, when added to the amount to be produced by a moderate and graduated capital tax subsequently imposed, would enable our Habilitie.s to be substantial- ly reduced and our subsequent taxation to comply with the test above referred to. This confiscation of nominal capital to relieve the present position with a subsequent tax on real capital when not advocated by some tub- thumping Socialist but by an eminent Chancery Judge demands attention and some show of justification, so the Press boys are set to work, and in three days we find a paragraph headed Flood of Paper Money going the round of the Press in the Principality. After calling attention to the extraordinary increase of paper money during the last fort- night the paragraph goes on to state that— Increase of currency notes in the hands of the banks serves only as a means of creating fresh bainking credit to several times their amount. The flood of paper money is a prime cause of the high level of all prices, and an instigation to individual extravagance and speculation. So far expenditure during the present financial vear has exceeded revenue by £ 300,000,000! This Jumping Jack attitude of the Press con- cerning a matter which is of serious interest to the whole community leaver the average reader mystified and apt to look on the whole money problem as a perfect puzzle, the more so as on turning to Labour and Socialist literature he finds a distinct trace of paper money theories prevailing there. Mr. Sydney Webb some time ago congratu- lated the Labour Party on its freedom from "de- lusicfns in money matters," but since then we have had a pamphlet published on The, Wages Problem amd the Money Power in which a Repeal of the Bank Act of 1844 is advocated, to be replaced by a Government issue of currency notes to t'he extent of 700 millions. This course, instead of alleviating the present position would aggravate the trouble and bring us within measurable distance of a repetition of the French Assignats. Paper note issues are nothing more or less than a Government-forced internal loaJl procured by interference with an economic law, a;nd a glanoe at the position brought about by 339 millions in the world of prices will give IDS some faint idea of what 700 millions would do. Whilst a medium of social relations (money) based on a commodity (gold) is subject to the ordinary laws of value, i.e., the amount of social labour necessary to reproduce it, a medium of social relations based on worth- less paper is tied down to the law of its own quantity, and issued over the quantity necessary to do the work results in a corresponding rise in prices. Let us see, then, where we are at present. The Government returns on the currency notes account give the amount of notes out- standing on December 31st last as £ 323,241,000 September 24th, £ 331,174,000; October 8th, £ 339,486,000, and the percentage change in the Economist table of wholesale prices which stood in July 1914, at 116.6 has during this year jumped from January, 265.9, to September, 299.4. The connection between those tables is obvious, and taken in conjunction with the fact that the war is over and the demobilised soldiers having settled down to productive work, scarcity, in- stead of being intensified is somewhat relieved, clearly shows us that we are living in a state of paper money inflation. Marx gave us a sermonising text when he said: "Gold circulates because it ha.s value, but paper has value because it circulates," and on looking in I-ms writings for the reason why at a time of inflation it is impossible to discern it in ordinary simple circulation we find the ex- planation that inistead of acting in a purely symbolic manner paper tokens have evolved a proper movement of their own. That is to say, the more paper you circulate the higher the prides go and the more paper is requiTed. The end to a movement of this kind is seen in the French Revolutionary Asisignats (as quoted last week) which depreciated from t4 to 3d., and if the capitalists of the country were sensible of the dinged- to Capitalism they would see the neces- sity of a tax on war profits, if only for the purpose of prolonging the death struggles of the capitalist system.
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Labour's War Cabinet. I Out-of the national rail way strike a perma- nent Council of Labour, with entirely new func- tions, is likely to emerge. The Conciliation Com- mittee appointed by the trade union conference to act as mediators in the railway dispute, de- cided at t-bek* last meeting after -the settlement was reached that steps should be taken to call a special trade union congress at an early date to discuss the whole wage question with special re- ference to the retention of war wages and their consolidation with pre-war basic rates. The Conciliation Committee met the Parliamentary Committee of the Trade Union Congress last week to discuss this proposal, and a further sug- gestion that a trade union council should be brought into being to regulate all wage applica- tions. In view of the interdependence of trades and the necessity of some common plan being formu- lated it is felt that such a council is needed. There is an impression in Labour circles that the railwaymen jeopardised their chances of success in declaring a strike before consulting other unions, especially (those which were likely to be immediately -involved in a railway stoppage, and it has been pointed out that the precipitancy of the strike made it very difficult for the other unions to get their executives together, scat- tered as most of their members were all over the country. What is propos.ed.we gather is the formation of a sort of Labour Cabinet which will be as fully representative as possible to co-ordinate wage policy and to decide what steps the unions can take together in carrying it out. One suggestion is that such a council might be formed by bringing together the trade umon representatives of tihe Joint Industrial Council, with/representatives of the Triple Alliance, the Parliamentary Committee of the Trade Union Congress, and the Labour Party Executive. The Parliamentary Committee of the Trnèe Union Congress is understood to have accepted the proposal to summon a. special trade union oongress and appointed a small Bub-eonimittee to assist in formulating proposals for disoussion and to gather all available informe-Lion from the unions regarding -wages, war bonuses, etc.
The Theatre Royal Mr. Klitt Caarde. The visit of "Gray Bohemia" to the Theatre Royal next week, played by a company that is ulti- mately to produce the piece in 1,?nd p 5 will prc- sent a w?ioom? light bfeak in the fine run ;tat Mr. has intro- duced in the autumn sea- son, and one that will not reduce that wonderfully high standard. If I were asked how Gay Bo- hemia" is to be classified I should be puzzled to re- Parker sat down to write ply, for when Albert pJy, for when Albert Parker sat, down to write the witty little book he made of it a compound that consisted of a large part musical comedy, with dashes of the essence of farce and revue at their best—and so the mixture has a distinct originality all its own. Unless the compounding is done by a master there is a tendency for the elements to refuse to mix, but in "Gay Bohemia the work is done so cleverly that the product is a novel piece of light art, that has sequence and brightness. With Klitt Gaaaxle (a Covent Garden baritone) and Ataria Ninetti (a Daly star) booked by a company including Charles Edwards, and Oxford and Strand Theatre folks a certain guarantee of firsit-clas« handling is given. The production of The Ifnife" this, week witrt its clever handling of two intensely inter- esting social problems, and its continuity of ex- tremely well done story—woven into an intense reality by the art of a band of really firgt-dlass artistes offers a thrilling play this week that has intense charm. PLAYOOBK. Printed and Published by the National Labour Presi, Ltd., at the Labour Pioneer Preu. Williams' Square, Merthyr TydIJ.