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Trade -Union Notes.I

Blackwood Miners and the Comb-Out.


Blackwood Miners and the Comb-Out. CONDEMNATION OF EXECUTIVE LEADERS. OVERWHELMING VOTE FOR CONFERENCE DECISION. Under the auspices of the Tredegar Valley District of Miners, a mass meeting of the Black- wood men was held in the Council Hall, Black- wood, on Tuesday (Oct. 30th). Mr. R. Lundgan (President of the District), was in the chair. Mr. Charles Edwards (acting miners' agent) and Mr. Oliver Harris (E.C. member) addressed the gathering and explained the comb-out scheme, with the recommendation of the Execu- tive Council to vote against the down tools policy. Both leaders, though apparently lacking in the spirit which moves men in their advocacy of a wroihy cause, emphasized the recommenda- tion of the leaders to consider the men in the trenches before voting on such a drastic policy as "down tools." Mr. Harris condemned war as the maddest of all mad things," but this war, having been started by Germany must be fought out until the German people were pre- pared to negotiate. Mr. George Davies was the first to raise oppo- sition to the views of the leaders, and in a few scathing remarks pointed to the reactionary policy adopted by the leaders during the 1915 struggle for the new agreement up to the pre- sent time. Councillor Sydney Jones followed and ex- pressed his disposition to respect the responsible leaders of the Federation, but at the same time he was bound to condemn their present policy, like their past ones, as inimical to the best in- terests of Labour and the future of Democracy. He pointed out how the press, platform and poli- tical schemes had, during the last three years, carried into effect the motto of the Capitalists to e( Divide and Conquer." The workers need only think for themselves a few moments and they would be able to analyse the position. The process of dividing had been going on very plausibly. First it was the attested and unat- tested; secondly, the married and unmarried; thirdly, and now, it was the bona-fide miner" against the 1914 men. Could anyone (he asked) who was not duped by the machinations of the Capitalist press and benighted leadership fail to see the object of such cowardly tactics P Coun. Jones quoted a statement made in the House of Commons in 1915 by a responsible army officer who termed trade unionism as "that refuge for slackers and shirkers; martial law would cure it." Great applause greeted Coun. Jones' cri- ticism and condemnation of the Government, the profiteers and their satellites. The fight for small nations had developed into a fight to win at home. Mr. Jones expressed his sorrow for the leaders who failed to learn anything after three years of war. To them there were no democratic leanings toward a saner policy in any other country but Britain. This was hypocrisy or ignorance. The endeavour to divide the bona- fide miners and the 1914 men was an endeavour to rouse the prejudices and passions of men of the same class to destroy their interests. The miners looked at their political interests as distinct from their economic interests. Here was a field for the militarists to exploit. The time was here and now to take the line of ad- vantage and least resistance. INTX. Jones ap- pealed to his fellow-workers to look all round the question; to consider the new war aims; to look at the pawns in the game. At this stage an "attested man warned the meeting to beware of the pacifists, I.L.P.ers, and irresponsibles, but he was quickly replied to by Mr. Jones, who drew his atttention to his "Bolos and the line of least mental resistance. This retort was received with loud cheers, and the Jingo dupe was a. crestfallen man. A resolution was then moved to accept the re- commendation of the Executive Council and to vote against the down tools policy. This was promptly opposed with an amendment to stand by the decision of the conference held on Octo ber 8th expressing dissatisfaction and even disgust with the leaders and the Capitalist press in their attitude towards the delegates at that conference. This amendment was ably seconded by Mr. Ronald Griffiths (secretary, Markham's Lodge), who referred to past decisions of na- tional conferences as being, in the opinion of cer- taiin leaders the "opinion of the rank and file." A motion that no vote be taken" was put, but quickly negatived. The original proposition and amendment were then put, and amid great enthusiasm and deter- mination was carried by a very large majority. The vote having been taken the chairman de- clared the meeting closed with expressions of opinion that it was the best meeting ever held in the town and a proof of the coming dams. It is significant to note that the Jingo inter- rupter had his great mental strain reported in the Capitalist press, but not a, line of the speeches made by others. Several voiced the opinion that Coun. Jones' speech ought to be published as propaganda for the new movement in the coalfield.


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