Two Allies of Labour


By Somduth Bhuckory —

MT 60 Years Ago

 3rd Year No 77 – Friday 27th January 1956

•       “I have made mistakes, but I have never made the mistake of claiming that I never made one.” – J. G. Bennett

The two allies of the Labour Party which we have in mind are the trade unions and the co-operative movement.

Two or three recent events of some importance have drawn our attention to these two natural allies of Labour. Mr Warren, Registrar of Co-operative Societies, held a conference on the 16 th of this month at the Public Relations Office to review the co-operative movement in Mauritius. At about the same time it was announced in the press that the S. Collendavelloo, who was a Labour Inspector since 1950, was appointed Trade Union Officer – a post which has just been created. But that was not all. Shortly after, we saw the Trade Union Congress taking an active part in the campaign of admission of children to schools, a campaign which is gaining more and more ground every day.

When we think of trade unions, quite naturally we think of associations of men of women who earn their living by working in fields, factories and offices. We think of all those who get their bread in exchange of labour. In short we think of man as a workman.

And when we think of the co-operative movement, we think of associations of producers and consumers of goods. In Mauritius our mind goes rather to consumers. We come to think of the co-operative stores and the dividends they yield to their members. And we start viewing man as a member of an organisation in which he is expected to enjoy, as far as possible, the fruits of his labour.

But why don’t we associate the trade unions and the co-operative movement with the Labour Party? Why, after all, should we be afraid of calling them the allies of Labour?

* * *

Last year, on the 9th of September, in an editorial entitled ‘Our Political Parties’, we said: “The Labour Party may not be what it ought to be. One may find that its leaders are not perfect. The Party may lack organisation. It may not have received the support of Trade Unions and the Co-operative Movement as one would have liked. It may have so far failed to enlist the full sympathy of all brain workers by appearing to be a Trade Union of labourers. But at least, it is to the credit of the Party that its principles are sound: it is an ideological party.”

During his visit, Mr Fenner Brockway laid special stress on the fact that the Labour Party should work in close association with the trade unions and the cooperative movement.

Now, the Labour Party may be inclined to work with the trade unions and the co-operative movement, but it is to be feared that the official sponsorship may prove to be an impediment in its way. We hope, however, that trade unionists and cooperators will extend their vision beyond the limits of their respective associations.

Politics should be no bugbear. Trade unionists should realise that it is but a part of politics to get busy with questions of wages, hours and conditions of work, and strikes. And co-operators too should understand that buying and selling for the welfare of the people and without cut-throat competition is no less a part of politics. Co-operators should moreover remember that we owe the word, “socialism” and the phrase “co-operative movement” to the same person, Robert Owen.

The Labour Party, on the other hand, in Mauritius as well as in England, is but a creation of trade union movement. And today in England it is regarded as a partner of the Trade Union Congress. It was not till 1918 that a co-operative member was returned to the House of Commons. Since then the number of co-operative members has steadily increased. All of them work hand in hand with the Labour Party.

* * *

It is significant that the questions with which the Labour Party has to deal embrace the whole range of human activity. It has to make its influence felt in every sphere of life. And it has a message of a new way of life. Its ultimate aim is a social and political reform of the human community.

In their small ways, trade unions and the co-operative movement too stand for a new way of life. By organizing themselves, workers have increased their bargaining power and consumers have created a revolution in the world of trade and commerce.

When so much affinity exists among the Labour Party, the trade unions and the co-operative movement, why should we hesitate in associating them? Speaking of the three movements, Attlee had said: “All three movements start from the same fundamental position. All seek to substitute a new organisation of society based on service and labour instead of private profit and property, but their methods of action and their spheres of operation differ.”

By working in close association, the three movements can achieve a great deal. We are not suggesting that trade unions and the co-operative movement should put up candidates and fight elections. The character of trade unions must remain industrial and that of the co-operative movement economic. But the Labour Party and its two allies must carry on their big social and political experience together, with or without official help and guidance.


La Campagne : “Admettez nos Enfants”

Avec la coopération de plusieurs syndicats des travailleurs, et du Mauritius Times et à la demande de nombreux parents une série de meetings publics est organisée dans toute l’île comme ci-dessous mentionné pour protester contre la décision du Directeur de l’Instruction Publique qui refuse d’admettre plus de 10,000 enfants dans les écoles.

Samedi le 28 janvier à 5 hres pm à Rivière du Rempart.

Dimanche le 29 janvier à 3 hres pm à Chemin Grenier.

Mardi, le 31 janvier à 5 hres pm à La Louise, Quatre Bornes.

Jeudi le 2 février à 5 hres pm à Mahebourg.

Samedi le 4 février à 7.30 hres pm à Plaine Verte, Port Louis.

Dimanche 5 février à 10.00 hres am à Rose Hill.

Le lieu et la date des autres meetings suivront.

Prendront la parole à ces meetings : Me Dabee, MM. Badry (Secretaire – Agricultural Workers Union), A. Moignac, (President – Port & Harbour Workers’ Union), P. Lacaze (Secretary – Railway Workers Union), A. Zamudio, P. Ruhee (Vice President AWU), B. Ramlallah, et d’autres orateurs.

P. Dabee

Pour les Organisateurs

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