J. T. Murphy

The Co-ops and the Trade Unions

Source: Workers’ Weekly, January 2, 1925
Publisher: Communist Party of Great Britain
Transcription/Markup: Brian Reid
Proofreader: David Tate
Public Domain: Marxists Internet Archive (2009). 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.

It is perfectly clear that the issue of trades unionism among the Co-op employees is not going to be allowed to stay where it is. In spite of the decision of 1919 that all employees must be members of trade unions, and its re-affirmation in 1924 the Co-op directors show no inclination to put the resolution into effect.

Nor do the reactionary forces within the local societies intend to accept these decisions. Every week the Co-op News reveals their activities, which prove beyond doubt that the time has come when the whole question of the relationship of the unions to the Co-ops and vice versa is to be fought to a finish. It will not be settled in a day or a month or a year. It will go on until the co-operative organisations become, in leadership as with membership, real workers’ organisations consciously directed along the lines of the class struggle. The activity of the reactionaries on the trade union question as well as their attitude at the Ghent Congress or the relations of the International Federation of Trade Unions to the International Co-op Alliance are phases of the single issue—the struggle to prevent the revolutionaries from lining up the whole of the working class organisations true to the class interests which gave them birth.

That this issue was settled either at Ghent or at the last quarterly meeting of the C.W.S. is out of the question.

These fights were only the beginning. They were only symptoms of the process of change coming over the whole international working class movement, the sure end certain sign that the revolutionary idea is permeating everywhere.

The unity Conference of January 25 called by the National Minority Committee is the next important event in the development of this process. To this conference are invited Co-op societies, Co-op guilds, &c., that are prepared to line up with the forces in the trade union movement, which are working for the completest expression of working-class solidarity. The conference proposes not only to support the Anglo-Russian Trade Union Unity Committee in its effort to secure the unity of the Trade Union Internationals, but bring this unity of the unions into the closest relations with the International Alliance in all things appertaining to the struggle of the working class. Its efforts will not end with the passing of a resolution in favour of these demands, but will be the starting point of subsequent efforts to apply the same principle of unity of action between the local trade union organisations and co-operative societies and between the central organs of the trade unions and the C.W.S.

To begin this work effectively is the most important task of the moment. We do not want mere formal talks between “leaders.” We want the widest activity and intensest activity of the workers of all these organisations. Start well. Get delegates to the United Conference. Then once more the forward drive.