27 AUGUST 1948, Page 2

Trade Unionists Express Themselves

It is usually assumed that trade unionists are sympathetic to production drives and opposed to inflation. But there are times when the truth comes to the surface, as anyone can discover who takes the trouble to examine seven specimens of trade union behaviour which have achieved sufficient prominence to be mentioned in the national press in the past week. At the Austin works in Birmingham 15,000 workers struck because certain operatives objected that piece-work rates on a new machine had been based on the per- formance of a demonstrator and would reduce the operators' earnings by 25s. to 3os. The assumption apparently is that no ordinary operator could possibly work as hard or as well as a demonstrator. That is the kind of assumption which has made British trade unionism what it is. In London the Printing and Kindred Trades Federation have magnanimously withdrawn notice of a ban on overtime on receiving an undertaking from an offending firm that it will not employ Poles, thus demonstrating the usual trade union understanding of the need to make the best of our limited labour resources. Engine-winding men from collieries throughout the country are about to form a single national union, thus giving themselves the power, dreamed of by every pioneer, to hold the whole industry to ransom. A representative body of aircraft workers has asked for a return from the " Fly Commonwealth " policy, which might make civil aviation pay, to the `c Fly British " -policy, which would not. Shipwrights and Electrical Workers at Southampton are engaged in a demarcation dispute, apparently on the assumption (discouraged by the Government) that there is not enough work to go round. Some 2,80o miners at Doncaster are threatening to strike to compel 15o men to join the union. And all this takes place in the shadow of the engineers' kloo,000,000 claim which would reduce the anti-inflation policy to nonsense. Clearly trade unionists have come back refreshed from their holidays with pay.