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100 years ago: Miners’ leaders fail them

25 June 2021

June 24th, 1921.

NO BODY of persons deserves at this time greater sympathy than the miners. Three months ago they were threatened with such a drastic reduction in wages as no body of men, with power of resistance, could be expected to accept. The responsibility for the strike which quickly followed lay at the door of the Government. Without apparently counting the cost, it had prematurely terminated the period of control in the mining industry. Nothing that has happened since can rid the Government of its primary responsibility. But the men now have a further grievance: their leaders have failed them. The only possible justification for leaders is that they lead, but the miners’ leaders have shown them timorous to a degree, and the last act in submitting the proposed new terms without a word of official advice, was inexcusable. The rank and file cannot be expected to judge the fairness of a settlement in all its bearings, and presumably it is to guide them in such matter that they subscribe to pay for leaders. We cannot believe that the Executive was without an opinion on the merits of the terms. To withhold their opinion was manifestly unfair.

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