Source: “Points About the Strike”, The Call, 9 October 1919, p.3, (455 words)
Transcription: Ted Crawford
HTML Markup: Chris Clayton
Copyleft: John MacLean Internet Archive (www.marx.org) 2007. Permission is granted to copy and/or distribute this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License
I think we must view the railwaymen’s strike in the light of the miners’ victory at the Trades’ Union Congress. I am of opinion the Government forced the issue by its grant to the locomotive men of a standard wage equal to and in some cases above the present war-wages, whilst refusing similar terms to the N.U.R. men. They made it impossible for the N.U.R. executive to do other than strike, and calculated, on the uncertainty of J.L. Thomas, the desertion of Bromley, the untested nature of the N.U.R., the existence and use of the Middle Class Union, the scab education inside the Army, and the mobilisation of transport motors, oil, coal, and foodstuffs under Government control, the usual Press lies, the “Anarchist” lie of Lloyd George, and the withholding of pay arrears and union funds with doles to other workers to split them from the railmen, to split the Unions; and to split the ranks inside the N.U.R.
If this could be accomplished, the power of the Government would be enhanced at the expense of the Unions and Labour at the first Special Congress might be relied on to vote against direct action to save Russia, and end conscription and military intervention in strikes.
Instead of waiting till Labour would take the offensive on issues giving Labour new power in the Class War, the Government has promptly rushed in and driven Labour to defend itself. At this stage in the evolution of the working-class such an attack will consolidate the workers as a class and show the capitalist nature of the Government more than millions of speeches could do. The unity of the railway workers is surprisingly encouraging, and is rallying the working-class generally to the side of their comrades. Most are spoiling for a fight.
If a General Strike can be avoided at this juncture, I think it advisable; for the Government has shown its preparations and its control of food and vehicles. A General. Strike should have behind it the impetus of a Labour attack, whereas the impetus is on the side of the capitalist Government.
A respite will enable the workers’ drift towards Labour to increase, will enable us further to clarify the vision of our class, and perfect industrial organisation on a sounder class basis, and will give us the time to show the Co-operative movement that the Middle Class Union, largely composed of private traders’ and their kith and kin in the professions, has as its end in the general onslaught on Labour the crushing of co-operation — the commissariat department of Labour’s army.
We must get ready to see that in the greater clash that is coming we get the foodstuffs into the hands of our class.