THERE was a lack of foresight on the part of the women strikers on the Tubes. They have, it is true, before returning to work while their claims are considered, devoted an additional day to celebration of their “victory”, but is it a victory? They have, with the help of a few men who had a purpose of their own not perceived by the women, probably succeeded in pressing their demand for equal pay with their male co-workers, but the effect of this will ultimately weaken the cause of female competition. Worse than this, however, was the folly of throwing over their leaders in the National Union of Railwaymen, who did their utmost to dissuade them from arguing their case for themselves. Refusing to listen to Mr J. H. Thomas’s gentle pleading, they found themselves in the position that the Ministry of Labour refused to listen to people who came to it without any official sanction. They ought to see that their conduct, besides being unpatriotic and wanting in consideration for the multitudes of women workers to whom they caused infinite discomfort, tends to undermine the principle of collective bargaining through the trade unions. We are all agreed that Labour should be organized on both its sides, and it is only thus that we can hope to avoid in the future the disputes that, in the past, have been so frequent and disastrous. But there can be no security of agreement if sections, either of employers or employed, repudiate the authority of their official leaders. We should then have internal wars among the members of the Unions, and might in time find the country brought into a state resembling that of Russia to-day, which no one could describe as worthy of imitation.
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