13 APRIL 1944, Page 2

After the Coal Strikes

The most unjustifiable and frivolous of the more considerable strikes of recent years, and at the same time the most mischievous and damaging to the community, has been ended with the return to work of the men in the Yorkshire coal-fields. The strikes in South Yorkshire 'should not be confused with the earlier stoppages which arose out of the question of piece-workers' wages ; these, though reprehensible, were more intelligible. In all, more than a million tons of essential coal have been lost, and a serious blow dealt thereby at war-production. The most disconcerting fact about these strikes, and especially that in, Yorkshire, was the irresponsi- bility of those who took part in them and the repudiation of leaders at the very time when the demands for which they have agitated for years had been granted. The strikes were a blow at organised trade unionism as well as against the State. No doubt war-weariness played its part, but it is unlikely that the miners would have yielded to this if it had not been for certain sinister influences which were undoubtedly at work playing upon their discontents. Individuals who set themselves to incite men to law- less strikes are at any time a danger to the community. In war- time they should be treated as traitors. The fact that the men have gone back to work is no reason why the Government should desist from its plan of tightening up the Defence Regulations so that it can deal effectively with the offenders. It is going ahead with its amendment, and Mr. Bevin has been giving the matter his personal attention. The recent frivolous stoppages were an example of indiscipline which cannot be tolerated in war-time, and those who organise them should be sternly dealt with. The industrial leaders of the miners have fought constitutionally and successfully for the removal of miners' grievances. , The strike agitators have been stabbing- in the back the best friends of the miners themselves.