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INDUSTRY AFTER .PEACE

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Dyfynnu
Rhannu

INDUSTRY AFTER PEACE PROBLEMS CONSIDERED BY THE ¡ SfcVAtiSEA METAL EXGHAKCE SPEECH BY MR. F. W. CiLBERTSOH The annual meeting of the Swansea i'ter xe l ian,, Metal Exchange was held on Tuesday aitemoon, Mr. E. W. Gilbertson presid- ing. The President, in his address, referred to the steady approach oi the end of the war, with the reasonable expectation of the final vtictory of the forces of Liberty, Democracy, and Progress. The peace that will bring joy to every heart, however, will, he said, bring with it a situation of extraordinary difficulty i:ii an indus- trial country like ours, and the practical ccx-jSiition of all iiuluhtnial activity in the form in which it now e&iets. In almost every aspect of it, our industrial situation is Mghly artificial, to-day. Our factories are engaged on work that will no longer be required, our ships are off their cus- tomary trade routes, our raw material is provided in the national interest without regard to economic considerations, and often subsidised to a very large extent; employee are placed in a position in which there is little incentive to economi- cal production, and workpeople are paid wages that may be too high or too low, but ac any rate are dictated purely by the expediency of the moment. The whole structure is juat a pack of eltrds that will oome down with a touch, and the imme- diate and perhaps the long future of our country will depend upon the nature of the reconstruction, which in turn will de- pend mainly on the national spirit tin which it is undertaken—not the spirit of employers or employed alone, but the spirit of the nation as a whole. SHIPPING PROSPECTS. I We have reason to he thankful that one of the early difficulties we had cause laci-. vear to apprehend will be less serious than seemed likely, and that, shipping will not be hopelessly inadequate. WV have also every reason to beltieve that the agricultural countries of the world and our great dominions are ur- gently needing supplies of our manufae k tured goods, and it would seem perfectly certain that the conditions exist for the rapid rec<tnstruct:ion of our normal trade, if only capital and labour can be de- pended on to co-operate together on or- dered lines. Unfortunately, we have had many re- cent examples of the liberty we are fight- ing -for degenerating into ii responsible licence, and the most optimistic of us must realise that there r.s grave d:;ng«r mii,.t rea l if.;t ahead unless the great public. wakes up to it and grasps the nettle. MEN AND STRIKES. I I say nothing of the canae of the strikes that have FO dnsgraced us and weakened our arms in critical times: whether a body of men are paid too much or too little can be argued and settled in many different ways, before independent arbi- trators and finally at the bar of public opinion; but whnt every man and woman in this country has got to realise is that a new policy has been adopted, not by or- ganised labour, but in the ranks of labour, and that the future order, prosperity and progress of the country, and indeed the ba,ppincss of individuals entirely .depend upon whether this policy M to be allowed to gaiii adherents, or is lit to be nipped in the* hiicl hy the Hrterrtw'ned common WTlff of the nation. In the past labour forces have fought for the power of organisation and the recognition of their Trade Unions, and sii-ob filr1.. as had not fallen to them be- fore the war arp now theirs The vtictory is complete, and we em- ploy ere in this distnic.t can justly claim tfcat we have not, hindered but rather have aided organised labour in their battle, a. wp have don-e, that indivi- dual liberty and well being can only be secured through representative institu- tions. EMPLOYERS AND TRADES UNIONS. The vast majority of our population are now satisfied that in the growth and re- coaTwition of the great Trades Unions the individual interests and liberties of the organised workingman are secured and that rebellion against the rules made bv these industrial representative institv- tionr- or against agr?ctnents entered "nto hv them is as prejudicial to the public interest as rebellion against the State. Nothiin^ can he more important in the reconstruction period than that the nation shcutd stand by the pninciple of collective | bargaining, and put down with a strong hand any attempts to substitute for it the power of the individual or the group to become a law to t-hemfelves, to act 3; though they were independent of the othr sections of the State, or to hold the nation to ransom. DIFFICULTIES OF GOVERNMENT I CONTROL. The next matter that may be expected to affect the interests of industry is the extent and length of Government control. It must be obvious to all of us that the interests of industry must be subordina- ted to the necessities of an abnormal con- dition of affaire, and that impliies a mea- sure of State control, until matters have readjusted themselves in certan direc- tK?ns. Sea tran??t. Hle supply of raw materials with gome regard to the prior needs of the more essential eerviecs. the interest* of our Allies, and many other factors, call for some State regulation at first, but once the time arrives when control lis not absolutely essential, it will become most dangerous an the true interests of the nation. We sha11 t-hen bftve. to oast off the old man of the sea. and although we can count on the support of labour and of the general public it wiill not be an easy mat- ter to free ourselves. AN ENEMY TO LOW COST. I We muet never forget that altho-ugh times of- bitter commercial competition between the industrial countries may not come at once, they wtill come again, and although we know the people will never permit the interest of industry to be ne- glected in the future as they were lin the thpi one nnft only firm rock there is upon which to build is low cost of pro- duction- Government control is and must be the enemy of low cost. There is also a. danger in centralised control that most of us have had expe- rience d. and muet not forget in the future development of our industries, and that is the danger of favouritism and injustice. Unquestionably the war has 6hown us the need of closer co-operation and of some organi-sed common effort in the carrying on of our business, and par- ticularly onr «al«s; but unless individual At Swansea's PrcTm?r House of Amuse» I mant JN'vxt }\i k. oA t liberty is preserved, the rights of the small man will be in jeopardy, and the least scrup-utoils or the moet powerful firm, or group will benefit unfairly at the I oxpense of the rest. FREITAGE REFORMS NEEDED. Bail way organisation ia one, and it must, be evident to aiK that reforms in our sys- tem of freight charges are called, for. The Railway Executive Committee has taken advantag-e of its powers to encroach cn the customary rlighte of traders, but tlie time will come when traders will need to defend their interests again. The protection of native industry, not from fahr competiiiion but from ljounty fed and dumped foreign products, is another, and one in which our great Trades Unions may be expected to aid us, as in this matter the interests of capital and labour are entirely coincident. An example of the danger of_State in, terference in directions outside the proper limits is our Coal industry. Abundant supply of cheap coal is ac- tually the life blood of our industralised country, but every elingle action of the Government has resulted in the discour- agement of enterprise, inicreased cost and reduced output. MINERS AND CONTROL. In this matter one must feel that U, iL, gravest fear for the future, and it is to htf hoped that the Miners' leaders may b*1 able to convince the inembets of their Society that the whole future of the coun- try and of their fellows in other indus- tries, depends upon the cost at which manufacturing coal can be won and put into truck. The miners are only one, al- though a most important, cogwheel in the economic machine, and no action or policy of theirs is without influence on the wel- fare of the State. It would appear from letters in the Press that the chief obstacle to a volun- tary increase of output by the minerr, or to the suspension of the Eight Hours Act which was always contemplated in times of national urgency by Parliament when passing the Act, is the fear of the miners that any patriotic contribution of theirs to the welfare of the nation might at the same time be found to benefit the mine owner. That such a fear, which, by the way is really groundless, should operate against the national interest in the epoch-making struggle for liberty is almost incredible, and if is true that it does exkt, it is the most damning evidence of the want of understanding of a large class of our fel- lows, or of the danger of the unrestricted propaganda by foolish or vicious persons which our tolerant methods permit. PATRIOTISM OF THE WORKERS It is one of the paradoxical phenomena of the war that the working men of this country should have shown such an in- sti.nctilve comprehension of the real iat>ueis at stake, and have played so noble a part in it, and yet number among tfiwja, groups of persons wielding great influence but capable only of thf narrowest views, and lacking any pride of country. The minei-6 particularly have yielded to no class in their patriotism in recruuting, or in their bravery on the held, and yet at home they have often easily been persuaded to put selfish before national interests, and to jeopardise the course of the war. Proceeding, Mr. Giibcrttwn added that if we in our generation were to reap the fruits of the untold sacrifices of this war public opinion must be formed by know- ledge and not in ignorance, and there were really ground s for hope in two direc- tions especially: The growth of the spirit voiced in the Whiteloy Commission's lie- port, and the accord given Mr. Fisher in his educational reforms. The employers of this district had given generous sup- port to the schemes for establishing a Technological School in the Unu-ersity cf Wales, and a constituent college at Swan- sea, and were now engaged in working out a scheme for close co-operation with the Elementary, Secondary and Technical Education Authorities. THE GENtRAL OUTLOOK. In conclusion he pointed out that in the iron, steel, fcpeiter and other trades, the district of Swansea had made im- mense strides during the war. Our steel trade (he continued) had broadened its bails so that it will be able to take part in filling the demand for all grades of steel after the war, and can lay ciailn to raw material for converting into the requirements of shipbuildings, rail- way equipment, and high-claws engineer- ing, in addition to all we did before. There is no grade of steel produced in Great Britain that our Welsh works can- not now manufacture as well and more cheaply than any other steel-making centre. The future of Swansea and district is a bright one if we all pull together and sink our individual prejudices in a com- mon effort for the greatest good. The war has shown us that individually we are better men than the Germans, and it only we could borrow a little of their power of organised effort the town and district of Swansea have no Limits to their power of expansion and prosperity. SECRETARY'S REPORT. The annual report of the Secretary (Mr E. H. Brooke) stated that during the year 68 new firms were admitted to memlxir- ehip, while over 50 old members volun- tarily increased their subscriptions and appointed additional representatives The number of members on June 30th was 303, and the number of representatives of these firms 460, which was 94 more than the previous highest total, and a net in- crease of 144 for the year. The contract had been placed for ceT-, tain structural alterations to the build- ing. Members of the Committee had been working with the Corporation, Chamber of Commerce and Harbour Trust to secure more equitable treatment for the port, and had been associated with war savings and other campaigns. In December application was made through Sir Alfred Mond to the Board of Trade that the Exchange be furnished with commercial intelligence of interest to the metal trades, but the matter was not pressed as the Board of Trade pointed out that members affiliated through cer- tain bodies with the Federation of British Industries were already entitled to the information. Reference was made to the visit of Mr Wiekham, Trade Commissioner in South Africa. There was no doubt that as a result of the visit trade in various indus- tries with South Africa would materially benefit after the war. The policy of sending printed copies of their report to Trade Commissioners and British Cham- ber of Commerce abroad had proved j quite a success, highly appreciative ac- knowledgments having been received. from Canada, China, Egypt, India and South America, with requests that copies be forwarded regularly in future, and assurances that the report is of great in- terest to large numbers of firms. Box Office at the Theatre. Tel. Cent. 278. (2) To GoraeinonWo cannot discuss; individual cases in our columns. Official denial is given to a statement which has been published that "Lord French has resigued and is not l'eturnir, to Ireland."

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