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The New International, March 1943


Reviews in Brief:

A War Labor Problem


From The New International, Vol. IX No. 3, March 1943, p. 93.
Marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


Wartime Transference of Labor in Great Britain
Published by International Labor Office, Montreal, Canada; 163 pages, price $1.00

This is an important study of the universal problem of the mobilization of manpower which all warring countries face. In Great Britain it involved the transfer of between four and five million people to new homes and new industries to meet the requirements of fighting a total war.

The initiative for working out such a program was with the government. Together with the big business organizations and the trade union officialdom, an enormous shift of population took place from unimportant (from the point of view of war production) industries to those producing war goods – the heavy metallurgical industries, shipyards and munitions. This mobilization involved not only the available working force, but went into the women and “over-age” labor reserves to provide the necessary labor for new demands. Thus it is estimated that out of a total adult population of 33,000,000, seventy-five per cent are now either in “the armed forces, the war industries or in other work or service.”

The problem in Great Britain, however, has not ended with the present mobilization. As a result of the limited population, the problem of continuous shifts to meet new war labor problems is constantly present, and the capitalist state solves it in the only way it can, by constant shocks. The pawn in all these shifts and transfers is the working class, whose remuneration, low to begin with, is “decided” in joint conference between capital, labor and the government!

A study of the experiences of Great Britain is important for Americans, where the problem of manpower and its control are being considered today from a practical point of view.

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