Jack Fitzgerald

The Socialist Party and Trade Unionism

Source: Socialist Standard, February 1907.
Transcription: Socialist Party of Great Britain.
HTML Markup: Adam Buick
Public Domain: Marxists Internet Archive (2016). 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.

At the adjourned meeting held at the Communist Club, May 26th, with Comrade Gifford in the chair Comrade Fitzgerald moved :

"Under term of reference No. 1

That as under capitalism the workers sell their labour power—inseparable from themselves—as an article of merchandise, and being subject to the same economic laws which prevail in other commodity markets, it is necessary for the workers to debate the fluctuations in price with the employers. Organised action being more advantageous than individual action, be it—
Resolved that the S P G.B. holds that Trade Unionism is a necessity under capitalism, to prevent the workers being continuously driven to sell their labour power below its value.

Under term of reference No. 2

That as the establishment of Socialism will mean "the administration of things instead of the government of people," as Engels said, and as the administration of the various delail processes of wealth production can only be carried on effectively by those possessing the requisite technical knowledge being organised for that purpose, be it—
Resolved that the S.P.G.B. holds that Trade Unionism is necessary for the establishment of Socialism.

If term No. 3 be considered

That as the position of the workers in modern Society is one of a propertyless class in opposition to the propertied capitalist class, the form of organisation adopted in the economic field must of necessity be based upon this class position as a first principle, while, for the reasons given under resolution No. 2, the chief detail unit of organisation must be the trade or occupation, be it—
Resolved that the S.P.G.B. holds that the form of organisation must have a class basis as first principle and the trade sub-division as the chief detail of organisation ; other sub-divisions, either geographical or economic, to be arranged as circumstances demand.

Under term of reference No. 4

That as the economic arm is required to act in conjunction with the political arm to establish Socialism, and as the only form of organisation which is in harmony with the political basis of Socialism is the one given above, be it—
Resolved that the S.P.G.B. urges forward the propaganda of the economic position laid down in conjunction with its political propaganda both inside and outside the present unions with the object of establishing the Socialist Trade Union required for this work. "

The mover said it was not necessary to spend much time here discussing the class basis, as we all realised that it was the lack of class-consciousness which kept the workers divided. The chief detail of organisation must be the trade or occupation because only those in a given trade knew the actual conditions, as was shown in the late strike of Daily News compositors. Moreover the other sub-divisions must depend on circumstances. The Leeds Fire Clay Co. in one district employed workers in several distinct industries, such as coal mining, clay working, building and stone quarrying, while the L.C.C. employed building operatives, tramway men, steamboat employees, clerks and draughtsmen. These were instances where the geographical sub-division was necessary, and where the industrial sub-division would be useless. The firm of David Allen & Sons was an example where the industrial sub-division would be suitable, all their employees being in the same industry.