Wednesday, August 22, 2018

50 Years Ago: TU Amalgamation (1977)

The 50 Years Ago column from the August 1977 issue of the Socialist Standard

While we support any move which will eliminate the existing craft outlook and other barriers which separate trade unionists, we do not make the mistake of supposing that the problems of the working class will be solved by the mere substitution of the great union for many smaller unions. What is of much greater importance is to get the workers to see that capitalism itself is the enemy.

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A useful corrective to attaching too much importance to a mere change of the form of organisation is contained in a remark made by Mr. Bevin in a speech advocating trade union amalgamation at the conference of the Transport and General Workers’ Union.
   Nobody welcomed this amalgamation more than the employers, who now met one body instead of dozens, with their internecine frictions. (Daily Herald, 20 July)
(From an unsigned article Trade Unions and the Employers in the Socialist Standard, August 1927.)

These Foolish Things: Work Till You Drop (1996)

The Scavenger column from the January 1996 issue of the Socialist Standard

Work till you drop
Britain is facing a new industrial epidemic. Office staff are working longer hours, but productivity is falling. Family life is also under threat from increased stress at work, with women coming off worse. Nearly three times as many women as men in white collar work are divorced or separated . . . Far from sitting back and driving their employees ever harder, those in management worked the longest hours of all. Among senior staff, 45 per cent of men worked 50 hours or more [per week].
(Jojo Moyes, Independent, 26 October.)

Encouraging effort
Staff at the electrical giant Comet were threatened with a hangman’s noose if they failed to reach sales targets. Three managers are facing a disciplinary hearing after the sick joke but they are not expected to be sacked. The incident happened at Comet’s store in Llansamlet, Swansea.

A group of sales staff were shown a noose dangling from the ceiling and a step ladder. Those who failed to meet that week’s quota for selling warranties were ordered to take a step up and told the ritual would continue in future weeks.
(East Anglian Daily Times, 19 October.)

This “shoot- ’em-up ” culture
[Phil Denne] designed Europe’s largest electronic warfare unit in Stanmore, Middlesex, where state-of-the-art computers simulate the anti-aircraft missiles and radar jamming devices RAF fighters face when screaming 50ft above enemy territory at Mach 1.

But now he is at the leading edge of the virtual reality, thrills-and-spills rides that, in the face of defence cuts, the military industrial establishment hopes will bolster dwindling income.

Denne says: “When the poker-faced top brass saw the simulated view they started ooh-ing and aah-ing, and I thought if people like this are getting excited then the general public will just love it.’’
(Financial Mail on Sunday, 22 October.)

Basic
The basic State pension in Britain is £58.85 a week or £3,060.20 a year against the national average wage of £17,488; just over one-sixth.

Maintaining the old values
Suicide victim Harold Graham could not face the winter after electricity was cut off at his Wear Valley home, a friend told a Bishop Auckland inquest yesterday.

Mr Graham had confided in his neighbour Christopher Hume a few days before he hanged himself last week at his home in Front Street, Sunniside near Tow Law. 
(Northern Echo, 15 November.)

What democracy?
However, the government’s definition does not include the new wave of unelected quangos established in recent years, now responsible for over £50 billion of taxpayers’ money. New quangos, sometimes referred to as a “new magistracy”, include the district health authorities and education funding agencies run by government appointees, many of them overtly political. A Guardian investigation in 1993 established that, in a broad definition of quangos, by next year more than 7,700 public bodies would have been created, controlled partly or wholly by government appointees.
(Guardian, 30 November.)

The Scavenger