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"The only solution of the British coal problem, which was the sole occasion for the recent general strike, is the unification of the industry under national control," said the Honorable Rennie Smith, M. P., in his talk on the British strike at the Union last Saturday.
"The strike, contrary to many reports, was entirely industrial and had as its only object a satisfactory solution of the coal mining difficulty which had come to an impasse. Following the brief period of prosperity in 1919 the conditions of the miners had been steadily growing worse over a period of five years. Finally in August of last year further wage reduction became necessary in order to keep the mines going. But the workers had reached rock bottom already, and a Royal Commission was appointed while the government agreed to subsidize the industry.
Premier's Offer of No Help
"This arrangement lasted until April 30, when the workers agreed to accept the recommendations of the Commission, but all that Baldwin offered them was a program of wage reduction and longer hours with no guarantee of future betterment. Negotiations failed and the workers were forced to resort to the general strike.
"The recommendations of the Commission are very important since they embody the ultimate solution of the problem. The report urges that private ownership come to an end and that the coal be the property of the nation. Then with the application of capital and scientific methods on a large scale England could hope to compete with the United States and Germany.
Policy Bars Settlement
"With the general strike imminent and the labor unions still trying to bring about an agreement, a sudden change in government policy, which used the Daily Mail strike as a pretext slammed the door in the face of settlement by peaceful negotiation.
"Now that the general strike is over, the workers have gained more by the terms of its settlement than they originally asked. They have been guaranteed that there would be no further wage reduction, the lockout order would be withdrawn, and a commission with delegates from the miners appointed to work out a plan of reorganization in the mining industry.
"The year 1926 I believe marks the end of unqualified wage reduction, and also the beginning of a new industrial-era. The next five years will see Great Britain well on the way toward the application of the principle of nationalization in the coal industry, and also toward the coordination of this with other industries.
"I also think that five-years from now the Labor Party will be materially strengthened as a result of the general strike. The Labor Party has been confirmed in this great conflict of wills, and also I am sure that students who are seeking some intelligent solution for the serious social and industrial problems which face the British nation will come to support the principles which the Labor Party stood for in this strike."
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