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Reva Craine

World Politics

(2 April 1945)

From Labor Action, Vol. IX No. 15 [should be No. 14], 2 April 1945, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Belgian Miners’ Strike

In a recent column we reported the activity of the Belgian revolutionary socialists (Trotskyists) in connection with the mine workers’ strike. While the reformist and Christian Union leaders were trying to get the workers back into the pits without any gains, the Brussels section of the Revolutionary Communist Party issued a leaflet containing the following, which explains the reasons for the strike and calls upon the rest of the orkers to support the miners’ struggle:


The miners of Limbourg, the Center and Charleroi have gone on strike.

They are demanding an increase in wages, clothing priority, an increase in the pension, the re-employment of union delegates who have been arbitrarily sacked.

These demands are completely justified, except in the eyes of the conservative and reformist papers, which are already blaming the miners and their union leaders as being responsible for the lack of coal. Yet the Belgian miners have worked hard since the ‘liberation.’ In spite of the absence of several thousands of their comrades, their production has exceeded that of their French comrades by fifty per cent.

In reality, it is not the lack of coal which is disturbing the reactionaries and reformists; but the fact that the miners are thinking of intervening in the control of production.


The miners want to know what scandalous profits the coal barons are accumulating in the midst of the general poverty!

Workers in industry, in the yards and offices! Transport workers! Housewives! Small shopkeepers! The miners’ struggle is that of the whole population against the incapacity of the government and the rapacity of the bosses.

If the miners call on you for aid, be ready to support them by all appropriate means!

Together with them you will establish a serious control over production and the distribution of coal.


Belgian Dock Workers

The dock workers in Antwerp went out on strike a few weeks ago in protest against the low wages on the dockside. After a promise of an increase, they returned to work. The promise was not kept. When the workers started another stoppage the authorities locked them out for fifteen days. Only a mass protest demonstration at the Town Hall caused the lockout decree to be lifted. In connection with this strike, two members of the RCP of Belgium, Dielis and Lowet, were arrested because they had warned the dockers that the promises of the authorities would not be kept unless a formal agreement were reached and their organisation recognized. A protest movement is now under way to demand the release of the two men.


British Miners Reject Plan

The condition of the British coal industry has been notoriously bad for many years. Due to the lack of modernization, inefficient methods of operation and the general mismanagement by the mine owners, productivity has fallen to lower than the 1914 level and the industry has been unable to keep up with the wartime demand for coal.

The coal operators appointed one Robert Foot to investigate the situation and bring back suggestions for a remedy. He labored and labored and finally brought forth the Foot plan, which starts out by declaring that “the only possible basis for the organization and policy of the industry is that of National Service.”

Of course, “National Service,” according to Foot, means to be applied only to the miners, since he goes on to say that “the best people to run the coal mines are the coal owners.”

The miners of Britain have for a long time understood what was wrong; with the mines and, have had incorporated into their union program a demand for the nationalization of the mines. They know that only in this way will it be possible to reorganize the mining industry, introduce the necessary technical improvements, increase productivity and, by eliminating the profit of the mine owners, increase the wages and living standards of the coal miners.

The National Union of Mine Workers therefore has rejected the Foot plan, which in essence calls for the centralization of the industry through the creation of a monopoly which would be in a position to raise prices on the home market, and increase production rates through the time-honored method of the employers, the speed-up, by the extension of “National Service” after the war. The British mine owners hope to get into a favorable position to compete with American coal at the expense of the mine workers’ living standards.

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