THE IDEA BEHIND INDUSTRIAL UNIONISM
FIGHTING SPIRIT MORE THAN MASS ORGANIZATION
SUCCESS OF THE SYMPATHETIC STRIKE IN 1911
WEAKNESS OF THE NATIONAL TRANSPORT WORKERS’ FEDERATION
Into the new bottles of industrial organisation is being poured the old, cold wine of Craft Unionism.
The much-condemned small Unions of the past had at least this to recommend them, viz., that they were susceptible to pressure from the sudden fraternal impulses of their small membership. If their members worked side by side with scabs, or received tainted goods from places where scabs were employed, the shame was all their own, and proved frequently too great to be borne. When it did so we had the sympathetic strike and the fraternisation of the working class. But when the workers handling tainted goods, or working vessels loaded by scabs, are members of a nation-wide organisation, with branches in all great centres or ports, the sense of the personal responsibility is taken off the shoulders of each member and local officials, and the spirit of solidarity destroyed. The local official can conscientiously order the local member to remain at work with the scab, or to handle the tainted goods, ‘pending action by the General Executive’.