6 FEBRUARY 1948, Page 3

Horse Sense from the T.U.C.

A suspicion of Communist infiltration was traditionally supposed to have the same effect on British trade union leaders as a whiff of gunpowder on a cavalry charger. But the recent spread of Communist influence, particularly among the miners and engineers, seemed at times to indicate that the old horse had lost his sense of smell. These doubts have now been emphatically stilled by last week's ultimatum from the British T.U.C. General Council to the Secretary-General

of the World Federation of Trade Unions calling upon him to convene the next meeting of its executive at once and threatening separate action if he does not do so. The story behind this action is simple. From its inception the W.F.T.U. has been riddled with Communist influence, particularly at the top. Its Secretary-General, M. Louis Saillant, is a Communist and a prominent member of the French C.G.T., which lost a large number of its non-Communist members after the recent political strikes. Like other W.F.T.U. officials M. Saillant has shown no reluctance to take part in the crudest anti-American propaganda, but at the same time he has been most dilatory in convening the executive of the Federation to discuss the Marshall Plan. The first request that he should do so was made by the American Congress of Industrial Organisations last November. The present demand by the British T.U.C. is likely to bring the matter to a head and, if the violent attacks by the French C.G.T. on the Marshall Plan are any indication, any meeting which takes place is liable to end in a split between Communists and non- Communists. If M. Saillant refuses to call the meeting then it is likely that the T.U.C., supported by the American and Benelux unions, will arrange for a separate conference to discuss Marshall aid. That could well end the infiltration of Communists into the control of Western European trade unionism. If it does, the T.U.C. will have done the world a service.