The National Minority Movement
Publisher: National Minority Movement
Transcription/Markup: Brian Reid
Public Domain: Marxists Internet Archive (2007). You may freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit “Marxists Internet Archive” as your source.
THERE are hundreds of left-wingers within the unions who are opposed to the existing leadership and policy, but because they are not organised they cannot do anything to bring about a change. They are not known outside their own branches, they have no knowledge of what other left-wingers are doing. At election times they do not know how to choose their candidate, with the result that either the right-wing bureaucrats get through unopposed, or half a dozen left-wingers split the militant vote between them.
The isolated left-winger tends rapidly to develop into an individualist. Never occupying a responsible post in the union apparatus he does not develop the constructive ability necessary to command the respect and confidence of his fellow members. Every trade unionist is familiar with the “left-winger” who is regarded by the whole branch as nothing but an irresponsible critic.
Thus the path of the militant trade unionist leads from every direction to the Minority Movement. Linked together in the Minority Movement, working in touch with one another, planning the work and learning the lessons of initial failures and delays, the militants can go steadily and surely about their task of making the unions safe for the workers. Beginning with the branch position, the gaining of district and divisional committees and official positions can be organised. With this process going on, on a nation-wide scale, the process of changing the national leadership is brought within measurable distance of completion.
The individual members of the Minority Movement supported by the sympathy of many hundreds of thousands of their fellow-members, have already done much; but it is necessary that the sympathiser should join our ranks and participate in our work. Passive sympathy is not enough. The trade union movement is going through the most serious crisis of its existence. The choice is before you—the General Council and the bureaucrats who surrendered to capitalism and reduced the unions to an appendage of the bosses’ machinery, or the National Minority Movement and the fight for a new leadership, a new policy and a new life for the worker.
It is impossible to read the speeches of any prominent trade union leader or his articles in the Labour press without coming upon reference to the National Minority Movement.
If one were to take these statements and writings at their face value it would appear that the National Minority Movement is some form of outside organisation entirely unconnected with the trade union movement, consisting of men and women whose only object apparently is to try and smash the existing trade union organisation and disrupt the entire movement by trenchant criticism of the existing leadership.
Such a conception is not only false, but is deliberately fostered to hide the incompetence of the present leaders and enable them to carry on their present tactics of class collaboration with our class enemies.
It is the purpose of this pamphlet to explain simply what the Minority Movement is, and what are its objectives. This can only be done when we ask ourselves such questions, as: what is the trade union movement? What is its standing to-day in relation to the avowed objectives of trade unionism as a whole?
If one were to examine the constitutions of most of the trade unions of this country it would be found that their object is the attainment of better conditions and an increased standard of comfort for their members, with workers’ control of industry as their ultimate objective.
This theory is the accepted theory of British trades unionism. The trade union movement developed during a period of expanding British capitalism, when owing to this development (a development which can never again occur in this country, owing to the entirely new situation brought out as a result of the war), it was possible to gain from the capitalist class, from time to time, concessions which made it appear that there could be a steady upward development of trade unionism and an increased standard of comfort for trade unionists.
With the end of the war, the entry of new industrial competitors into the field against England, the consequent gradual contraction of the world’s markets, the Russian revolution, bringing one-sixth of the world’s surface under Socialist control, the development of native capitalism in the colonies and dependencies formerly dealing with Britain but now becoming her competitors in the world markets, the improved technique and increased efficiency in countries like America, Germany, etc., have brought about a situation unparalleled in British working class history.
This situation has led to a continuous offensive on wages, hours and workshop customs and practices, an offensive culminating in the passing of the Trade Union Act which destroys fundamental economic and political rights of the trade union movement which had been thought secure for all time.
This offensive has been rendered more successful because during the war there took place a tremendous concentration of capitalist forces in this country as seen in the elimination of rival employers’ federations and organisations, and the consolidation of the whole of the capitalist combines, as far as wages, policy, etc., were concerned, under the common leadership of the Federation of British Industries and the Federation of Employers’ Organisations, acting in concert and unity with the real masters of the situation—the big financiers.
No such corresponding concentration took place within the trade unions. We still have 203 unions affiliated to the Trades Union Congress and there are a number of other unions not affiliated, bringing the total number of trade unions in this country to 1,135, all competing for a membership somewhere in the region of 5½ millions.
It is easy to see that this not only results in rival policies, sectionalism—reflecting demarcation questions and the splitting of the workers’ forces, but, it has all been countenanced and encouraged by the existing leadership which accuses us of being the splitters—splitters, that is to say, in a movement already split from top to bottom as the result of its own development and the flat refusal of the existing leadership to bring about the consolidation of the workers’ forces, because this would mean the elimination of a multiplicity of jobs now held by trade union bureaucrats who draw considerable sums in wages as the result of this disunity of the trade union movement.
The contrast between the capitalists’ organisations and the workers’ organisations is to be seen in actual results. When we say from time to time that the present leaders are responsible for defeats, treachery, and betrayals, many workers even yet are apt to think we are too harsh in our criticism; but what does a practical consideration of the actual situation show?
Since the capitalist offensive beginning in January, 1921 and ending in November, 1927, the workers in this country have lost £10,399,000 per week in wages. In October, 1927, in 31 selected areas, out of every 10,000 of the population, 424 were in receipt of Poor Law Relief; and on October 31st, 1927, there were 1,132,000 workers in receipt of unemployed benefit—this figure not including the thousands who have been struck off the register, having exhausted benefit.
Only the workers can understand the significance of the above figures, but the most appalling feature of the situation is that the bulk of these reductions, intensification of productive processes and increased unemployment, have taken place in the basic industries of this country, industries, which at the moment certainly do not show any possibilities of a trade boom, and in our opinion are entering a deeper depression.
The industrial peace propaganda which is now being sedulously foisted on the workers, is a deliberate manuvre on the part of the capitalists, using their agents, the General Council of the Trades Union Congress, to put forward this policy of class collaboration in order to hide the preparations for new attacks which will be made within a short time, when the unemployed situation will begin to show a very rapid intensification. This will lead to further attacks on wages, hours and workshop conditions, as are already to be seen in the new attacks on the woollen and cotton operatives which constitute the first round in the new offensive.
It is idle to deny that the leaders are responsible for such a situation, when under their direction the workers have suffered a steady succession of defeats, culminating, of course, after the gigantic betrayal of the General Strike (when the workers demonstrated in such magnificent fashion their willingness to fight on behalf of the miners, because they understood instinctively that such a fight was a fight for the wages of the whole working class), in the complete capitulation of the leadership on the Trade Union Act, in the sabotage of the Chinese trade unionists’ struggle against British capitalism, and in the poor fight put up against the infamous Blanesburgh Report. Their only efforts have been put forward in a ruthless fight against the Minority Movement. The logical outcome of the General Council’s policy was reached at Edinburgh Trades Union Congress, the chief features of which were:
1. The attack on the Minority Movement.
2. Failure to deal with Havelock Wilson’s splitting tactics.
3. The break with the Russian unions.
4. Outstretched hand to the Baldwin Governmet on behalf of industrial peace.
If this analysis is condemned as too strong, perhaps the three following quotations will prove that we are justified in what we say:
“The Trades Union Congress has followed our example. Do you not think they might almost have proposed a vote of thanks to the Home Secretary? Really I am the best friend of the Trades Union Congress. I am trying to help them in their warfare against Communism.”—(Joynson-Hicks, Sept., 1927.)
“He was glad to see that the Socialists had been converted to his view of the Russian Bolsheviks. By their action they had ratified the Government’s action in turning the Russians out of London.”—(Winston Churchill, 1927.)
“It is said in the City that the proceedings at Edinburgh are largely responsible for the brighter tone of the stock market.”—(“The Economist,” September, 1927.)
Despite this, within the last three of four weeks we have been made aware of the General Council’s decision to meet 24 of the biggest capitalist exploiters in this country in an “industrial peace” conference, to consider industrial relations between the trade union movement and the capitalists represented by these 24 exploiters.
Our readers will find in another pamphlet on industrial peace (“Peace—But Not with Capitalism”—price 2d., N.M.M.), our views more fully stated on this question. It is sufficient here to say that in the opinion of the Minority Movement there can be no reconstruction as long as capitalist control remains, except such as will give a slight wage increase to a favoured section of industry, but definitely increasing the ranks of the unemployed. Taking the position of the working class as a whole, reconstruction and rationalisation proposals, now so glibly talked about, will be found in actual practice to reduce the standards of the working class very considerably. At the same time they will provide a weapon against the workers, which will be made manifest in a point-blank refusal to remedy the organisational weaknesses which now hamper the trade union movement to such an extent.
It is necessary for us to state quite frankly that there is no difference between the right-wing and the so-called leftwing of the General Council leadership. It was the so-called left-winger, Hicks, who led the way at the Edinburgh Trades Union Congress on industrial peace. It was Mr. Thomas, Mr. Citrine, and Mr. Bromley, who at Edinburgh stated that in recommending the break with the Russian unions, the members of the General Council were unanimous. It is Mr. Havelock Wilson who is claiming that the General Council have followed his propaganda for industrial peace (the Mr. Wilson, be it remembered, who is trying to smash the Miners’ Federation of Great Britain, a union affiliated to the Trades Union Congress). Only A. J. Cook, the miners’ leader, had the courage to oppose the latest decision of the General Council in regard to the industrial peace conference with the employers of this country.
It is easy in a period of upward development to be revolutionaries. It was easy for the “left” members of the General Council to express privately to people the view that they did not believe in the policy of Thomas, but when a fundamental question, determining the very future of the working class movement (such as the General Strike) came to the fore, there was no difference between the “lefts” and “rights.” Not only is it not part of our policy to make any distinction between them, but it is our duty to see that the responsibility for such a terrible situation falls not so much on Thomas, as upon the Hicks, Swales and Purcells of the movement, and those other leaders who from time to time have deceived the workers by left-wing phraseology, while operating right-wing policy.
A revolutionary leadership is not only a leadership which fights within the confines of the General Council’s chamber at Eccleston Square, but one which comes out openly and tells the workers of the treacheries hatched there against them. Such a leadership would get support from the masses themselves as the result of leading the open fight against the defeatists and informing the workers of what actually goes on among the representatives to whom they pay such large salaries, and who also get exorbitant expenses for attending such council meetings.
It is no part of the work of the trade union movement to save capitalism from consequences brought about by the capitalists themselves. We tell the workers frankly that not only is there no possibility of Britain retaining its former position, but the decline of British capitalism (with the consequent intensification of the offensive on British working class conditions) will accelerate as the years go by.
Industry has been ruined by contradictions within capitalism which cannot be eradicated until the workers themselves, through their trade unions and under the leadership of a revolutionary political party, have obtained complete political power and workers’ control of industry.
That is the issue confronting the trade unions in this country, and it is on account of the seriousness of this issue that the fight between the revolutionary workers and the reformist leadership must become more and more acute. The National Minority Movement is not an outside organisation attempting to interfere in a domain which does not concern it. The National Minority Movement is a movement of trade unionists, co-operators, and unemployed workers, who are organised in their respective organisations for the purpose of conducting a relentless struggle against the leadership that exists at the moment, in order that as a result of our constructive proposals inside the organisations of which all our members are a part, we can revolutionise the policy, structure and outlook of the trade union movement in order to bring it into line with the existing situation and the present needs of the workers.
It is natural that in the situation that now confronts us there should from time to time be made suggestions that the trade union movement is played out; that what is wanted now is the establishment of new revolutionary unions; that if only the workers would disrupt their present organisations they could again rally many thousands of trade unionists who have left the present unions in disgust. We have no hesitation in describing such a position as absolutely false. Trade unionism is not played out! It is still a mighty weapon in the hands of the workers. What is necessary if further defeats are to be staved off, is for the trade union movement of this country to adapt itself to the new conditions of struggle facing it, and the main task of the movement is to assist by constructive work inside the unions in bringing this new form of trades unionism into being.
How is this to be achieved? Can it be done by grumbling in the workshop, refusing to attend trade union branch meetings or to participate in the detailed work of the trade unions? No! Such an attitude is the refuge of cowards. Victory can only be brought to the Movement in the degree that those of us who stand for a new policy and a new outlook agree to come together and work in an organised manner to bring about the desired change. The Minority Movement exists and was formed for this purpose. It has brought together under its leadership the multitude who formed the unofficial reform movement—the vigilance committees, the shop stewards organisations, etc. At its first conference in 1924 it established this common contact. The result has been seen in the steady growth of our influence throughout the trade union movement of this country, a growth that has only been made possible because our members are the most active and loyal that can be found in the trade unions—whose loyalty at all times is class loyalty, finding expression (despite the most appalling difficulties and circumstances) inside their organisations, raising the banner of the revolutionary opposition and getting our policy endorsed by the branches with which they have contact.
It is said that the masses are apathetic and do not care what happens. We direct our readers’ attention to what has taken place in the Lanarkshire and Fifeshire coalfields, and what would take place in other unions had the workers a similar chance. Here, there were square fights between the policy of the Minority Movement and the policy of the old leadership of the miners’ unions. Our candidates swept the board because the workers are disgusted with the old policies and leaders, and are turning more and more to the Minority Movement for a new leadership.
It is said that we place too much importance on the question of leadership. We retort that too much importance cannot be attached to the question of leadership, which is a decisive factor in our movement. Leaders get their positions in all departments of life by virtue of their claim to be capable of leading—that is to say, they gather round them men and women who believe that such people can see, as it were, further than they themselves can. However, if it is found that the leaders when functioning fail to inspire, lead to defeats rather than to victories, disrupt the ranks of their followers as a result of treacherous dealings, prove themselves poor tacticians during crises, and cowards in the face of opposition, disillusionment is bound to set in, and the is that such leaders will be deposed and their places taken by stalwarts from the ranks of those they have disillusioned.
This is the process through which the trade union movement of this country is going. The trade union leaders are guilty of treacherous dealings—they are collaborating with our enemies, the capitalists. Time and time again they have led us into struggles only to capitulate. Time and time again they have rent our ranks asunder. It is the proud task of the National Minority Movement to organise the opposition to such a leadership, not with a view to smashing the ranks of the trade unions, but with a view to strengthening them—consolidating their resources, unifying the unions by amalgamation, formulating a common policy on wages, hours, workshop conditions, more effective means of dealing with questions arising from workmen’s compensation, etc., so that we can prepare for our final objective—the control of industry by the workers themselves. Such a task can only be accomplished if we are clear on what leadership means, and what are the tactics necessary to bring about the desired objective.
The Minority Movement therefore places before the workers its programme and policy, believing that they afford a basis upon which it is possible to build up a new form of organisation out of which will develop the new leadership that will be able to bring about rapidly an entirely new conception of the role and functions of the trade union movement.
Every worker is agreed upon the necessity for re-organisation: bitter experience has taught him what the present over-lapping and sectionalism has led to. We have no hesitation in declaring that the real solution for all these problems of organisation lies in commencing the task of reorganisation at the place where the workers are gathered together for the purpose of production. That is to say, the most effective form of organisation that can be built up to defend the workers against capitalism and to prepare the system that will one day be responsible for performing the functions now carried out by capitalist organisations, is undoubtedly that of workshop committees. Therefore, we strongly support the policy of the formation of workshop committees which shall unite in a common movement all workers employed in a particular factory, irrespective of the craft, trade or occupation they happen to be following at the moment.
One Union for Each Industry
This will develop a real driving force which will immediately lead to an intensive campaign for the adoption of the policy of one union for each industry.
Experience has shown us that the idea of one union for each industry is practicable. It has already been carried out in Soviet Russia, where we find that the 8,000,000 organised workers have only 23 industrial unions, and that the basis of these industrial unions is organisation from the workshop upwards.
The Trades Councils
We also stand for the development of the existing local trades councils along new lines, as we believe their function is entirely different in character. Too long have these trades councils been the happy hunting ground of careerists and political opportunists. They can, and will, be made local coordinating and unifying centres of working-class organisation, having their delegates from the workshop committees, trade union branches, district councils, and co-operative societies. They will be fashioned as weapons of struggle, and will be of the greatest possible assistance to trade unionists in their every-day struggles against the exploiters.
The General Council
From this naturally follows the necessity, for a General Council of the trade union movement as a whole, which will be the leadership of the movement, and will thus end the present sectional leadership as exemplified in the existing General Council, which still discusses policies, and acts from a sectional point of view—where indeed the representatives are elected simply as a result of their sectional contacts, and not because of their capacity to lead the working class in any situation as a result of holding the confidence of the whole of the workers they are called upon to lead.
The conception we have of the General Council of the trade union movement is something entirely different from the body that exists at the present time. We believe that it is necessary for all future struggles to be directed by the best leadership that the movement can supply. This leadership is obviously one that must arise from the new conditions and situation now facing the trade union movement. Therefore, as we develop our factory committee organisation, as we strengthen and increase the powers of our local trades councils, as we popularise and intensify our agitation within the existing unions for the adoption of the principle of one union for each industry, the new leaders of the future arise.
The establishment of such a General Council would involve a complete break with the existing General Council and all its methods of procedure and election.
The General Council we visualise will be a General Council of new leaders drawn from the ranks of the workers themselves. The present General Council is a discredited leadership to which no further support can be given. A consistent exposure must be made of their policy and tactics in order that new forces will be thrown up and take their right places in the movement. We are out for a General Council, not of general secretaries meeting once a month in London at some hurried committee meeting, but a General Council whose whole time is devoted to the planning of trade union tactics, strategy and policy; a leadership that will bring together all our forces and act in the same way to our movement as the general staff acts to an army during peace time and war time alike—in other words, a single leadership with a central authority carrying out the decisions of the Trades Union Congress, which in the future will be trade up more and more of rank-and-file elements, thus providing more adequate means of expression, criticism and constructive policy from trade unionists than is possible at the present time.
From this follows naturally the strengthening of our fight for the unification of the international trade union movement. There are at present two Internationals in existence, the Amsterdam International (I.F.T.U.) and the Moscow International (R.I.L.U.). The Amsterdam International is simply a European organisation destitute of an effective leadership or any contact with the millions of new trade unionists now springing up in China and the colonies. Further, there are many important trade union centres, such as Australia, Norway, India, etc., which refuse to have anything to do with the Amsterdam International, and which stand for one international for all trade unionists.
The R.I.L.U. is made up of affiliations from the Russian unions, the trade union centres in the Balkans, and minorities of revolutionary workers in every country; but the most important affiliations are those which it is winning in countries such as China. It is the one International that has raised aloft the banner of international class solidarity. Since its formation in 1921 there has not been a single international working-class struggle which has not received the active and practical support of the R.I.L.U.
In this country it was thought at one time that the Anglo-Russian Committee would have made possible the unification of the world trade union movement. That Committee has been smashed by the existing leadership of the General Council, who have now identified themselves with the very worst features of continental social-democracy.
We must struggle for the re-building of the Anglo-Russian Unity Committee as an alliance between the Russian workers and the British workers as the most effective means of bringing about a world congress at which it will be possible for international trade union unity to be achieved.
This contact can only be achieved by the Russian trade unions having relations with the new rank-and-file elements now consolidating themselves in the National Minority Movement and the Friends of Soviet Russia. There can be no further thought of the Anglo-Russian Unity Committee as expressed in the recent relations between the General Council of the British and Russian Trade Unions respectively.
Above all, we fight for the convening of a world congress of all organisations affiliated to the Amsterdam International, the Moscow International, and the trade union centres of all those countries at present not affiliated to either, in order that one World International can be established to fight more effectively the battles of the world’s workers. After our recent experience of the miners’ lock-out it should not be necessary to enlarge on the necessity for effective international action.
The importance of the co-operative movement to the trade union movement, despite the experience of the last few years, is not yet generally realised. In all too many cases the active work of the co-operative movement is left to ambitious “place-seekers,” or is looked upon as being more a woman’s job than a man’s.
The plain truth trade unionists have to face is that without the closest alliance with the co-operatives success in any strike or lock-out is rendered increasingly difficult. For this reason alone it is necessary that the active workers should give the same close attention to the policy and direction of the co-operative movement as they do to their trade unions. In particular it is necessary to pay closer attention to the Women’s Guilds, largely made up of the wives of trade unionists, in order that no aspect of co-operative work that can be of value to the trade union movement shall be neglected.
This great co-operative movement is destined to play a most important part not only in the immediate struggles of the trade unionists but after the workers’ final conquest of power, when the building up of socialism becomes the task of the new ruling class.
For this reason the National Minority Movement puts forward in its programme points for the serious consideration of its members in particular and trade unionists as a whole, so that we can break the all too prevalent conception that the co-operatives should be dividend-producing agencies, and mould them into real weapons of the working-class struggle.
The National Minority Movement is not a separate organisation endeavouring to fulfil the functions of a trade union, but is a body of active workers inside the existing trade union movement, who are organised in their respective industries and grouped together in the various national sections of the Minority Movement, such as transport, mining, building, printing, metal, general workers, etc.
The purpose of these sections is to formulate a common policy applicable to all the unions in these industries. By popularising this policy in their existing organisations our members seek to make our Minority policy the official and accepted majority policy of the unions.
We. aim, therefore, at giving organised expression to the existing minority opinions in all trade unions, in order that as a result of constructive and organised activity our policy may be the policy of the trade union movement as a whole. We do not aim at bringing into being any new organisations as rivals to those now existing; on the contrary, we are actively opposed to any attempts to split the trade unions or establish new organisations.
1. Campaign for Too per cent. trade unionism and the formation wherever possible of workshop committees, the members of which are to be guaranteed by their various trade unions from victimisation.
2. The re-organisation of the trades councils to transform them into local unifying centres of the working-class movement.
3. A fight to expose the present discredited leadership of the reformist trade union leaders, showing clearly and concretely what their leadership has meant for the workers, and what it will mean in the future if left unchallenged.
4. Affiliation of the National Unemployed Workers’ Committee Movement and the local trades councils to the Trades Union Congress, and the acceptance of representatives from these organisations upon the General Council of the T.U.C.
5. Acceptance of the principle of one union for each industry, and the immediate amalgamation of unions in kindred industries as a step to the realisation of industrial unionism.
6. The appointment of a new General Council of the T.U.C. elected by and at the Congress from nominations made by the delegates present, such council to have full powers to direct the whole policy of the trade union movement, and to be under obligation to the Trades Union Congress to use that power to fight effectively the battles of the workers.
7. Popularisation and organisation of Workers’ Defence Corps, which shall prevent the organisations of the workers being destroyed during periods of acute class struggle.
8. Youth: (a) The re-employment of all young unemployed workers and continued education and vocational training for all young workers up to 18 in special apprentice departments and workshop schools within the factories on the basis of paid work according to the union scale of wages.
(b) Fixing of minimum wage demands for young workers according to the industry.
(c) Unemployment relief for all young unemployed on the following scale: 14 to 16 years, 10s. per week; 16 to 18 years, 15s. per week.
(d) A six-hour day for all young workers. Abolition of overtime.
(e) Abolition of night work for all young workers under 18.
(f) Fortnight’s annual holiday with pay.
(g) Abolition of individual apprenticeship indentures of young workers in collective agreements. Control of apprentices by shop stewards and trade unions.
9. Women: (a) Old craft prejudices must be discarded and all unions thrown open to women engaged in the industry.
(b) The T.U.C. should revive and develop its campaign for organising women and concentrate more on factory gate and workshop meetings.
(c) Women should have equal representation on workshop committees, and where none is eligible the workshop committee should make itself responsible for bringing the women into a union.
(d) The principles of equal pay, equal opportunities, and the organisation of unemployed women, should be fought for by all trade unionists.
(e) Concrete assistance by the trade union movement to the formation of Women’s Trade Union Guilds.
10. Co-operatives: (a) Every trade unionist a co-operator. Where eligible every co-operator a trade unionist.
(b) All co-operative employees must be trade unionists with the fullest rights of shop and union organisation in each department.
(c) Affiliation of local co-operative societies with local trades councils, and a close working alliance establisped between co-operative unions and the Trades Union Congress through the Co-operative Union.
(d) The trade unions in proportion to the membership to guarantee all credits advanced by the co-operatives in times of industrial struggle.
(e) Trade unions to invest their funds in the C.W.S. Bank, and support to be given to the policy of forming local C.W.S. Banks.
11. International: A fight for one united trade union international.
The achievement of the above programme can only be realised by the most systematic and conscientious service of all our adherents. More than ever must we work to win in creased individual membership for the Minority Movement and affiliations from trade unions. The more effectively we establish our groups in every trade union branch, the more shall we be able to build up an organisation that can prevent a continuation of the present defeatist policy. In addition, we shall provide from the ranks of the workers (just as the miners are doing), whenever the opportunity presents itself, a new leadership in keeping with the needs of the workers that will transform the present incompetent trade union is machine into an efficient weapon of the workers’ struggles, strongly entrenched in the workshops, thus guaranteeing victories instead of defeats for the workers.
At the end of our first Annual Conference in 1924 the Executive Committee of the National Minority Movement issued a manifesto to the Trades Union Congress containing, the following statement:
“For the first time in the history the Congress an organised opposition within the unions faces the existing leadership, and raises unreservedly the banner of the revolutionary working-class politics in British trade unionism.”
That policy and intention still stands. The banner floats high in the breeze, rallying around it increasing numbers of workers pledged to work in an organised manner within their existing organisations, not in senseless opposition but in a constructive manner to bring about the necessary changes demanded by the new economic and political situation.
We do not stand for the disruption of the movement, nor to launch a policy which is hostile to trade unionism—our policy is hostile to the leadership which has led the trade union movement to defeat, and has almost lost sight of the original objective for which this great movement was formed. It is our proud task to restore to the trade union movement the determination and militancy in the fight for this: objective that animated the pioneers in the past, who were unspoilt by the praises of the capitalist press, and who were not afraid to jeopardise their jobs by reason of their close identity with the working class. We are confident we shall not fail in this momentous task.
The workers are beginning to realise that so long as the present leadership remains at the head of our movement they are not safe from betrayal. These agents of capitalism must be discarded if the movement is to safeguard its most elementary interests. The only way to accomplish this is to build up a powerful Minority Movement with its organised groups in every section of the British trade union movement.
We call upon the workers to repudiate this treacherous leadership which is about to complete a new pact with our avowed enemies. The workers must demonstrate to the General Council that under no circumstances will the trade unions surrender their historic role of fighting capitalism until they have completely broken its power and established workers’ control of industry under the leadership of a Workers’ Government.
The National Minority Movement has now been in existence for four years, during which time its membership, affiliations and influence have steadily developed.
It is composed of (1) individual members who are trade unionists, and (2) affiliated trade union, co-operative and unemployed organisations.
Individual members pay a minimum fee of 1s. per annum and hold the membership card. They participate in the work of the M.M. in their union branches, and are members of the local group of the M.M. which meets regularly to discuss policy and work.
Trade union branches and Co-operative Guilds pay an affiliation fee of 2d. per member per annum. District Committees, Factory Committees and Unemployed organisations pay a fee of 1s. per annum per 1,000 members represented. Members of affiliated organisations are asked to become individual members also.
The success of the work of the M.M. depends upon its individual members who put forward the policy in the branches and on the job, sell our literature and spread our ideas. By their work in the union they secure the support of their comrades, and when elected to union positions because they stand for a militant policy, they show how practical union work can be well done by officials who yet retain their militant outlook.
The individual members of the M.M. are clearing the way for the new leadership which will make the trade unions once more the weapons of the workers in their fight against capitalism and its oppression.
Take your place in the movement and lend a hand—join now!