14 OCTOBER 1938, Page 3

Democracy and Discipline At a moment when democracy is beginning

to realise that indiscipline and unchecked exploitation are two of its greatest dangers it is deplorable to be faced with such examples of the latter as are provided by the statement of the Lord Mayor of a great city that during the crisis the price of sandbags rose from rid. to rod., and of the former as the railway strike in London. The cause of the strike was the discovery that a single ticket-collector was not a trade-union member. The company concerned, the L.M.S., took the reasonable view that its individual employees must be free to decide for themselves whether to join a union or not. A number of men, however, declined to work with the non-union member, and by Wednesday, over three thousand porters, ticket-collectors, cleaners and others at Euston, St. Pancras and King's Cross had stopped work. Such action is a breach of all existing agreements between the National Union of Railwaymen and the companies, for a regular procedure of discussion and conciliation has been set up by those agreements. That is the grave feature of the present dispute. It is completely unofficial and discountenanced by the union, whose leaders have been doing their best to effect a settlement. if the collective principle on which the strikers take their stand is to express itself in deliberate breaches of collective contracts the case for the definition of industrial relationships by free negotiation is gravely weakened, and the case for other methods less congenial to those who care for liberty propor- tionately strengthened.

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