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Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria University College, Wellington N.Z. Vol. 20, No. 14. September 26, 1957

Unions and Communists

Unions and Communists

One of the most fundamental of human rights is the right of association, and derived from this is the right of workers to organise into trade unions so that they may bargain collectively. With the exception of persons with an undemocratic frame of mind, such as the Wellington president of the Employers Association most members of Capitalist society accept, or at least tolerate, the institution of trade unionism. This, as I shall endeavour to slum, is by no means the case in the Communist-enslaved sector of the world.

From the earliest days of Communist rule in Russia, the trade union movement has been constantly harassed and suppressed. Lenin himself slated at the loth Congress of the Party that the whole syndicalist absurdity must be thrown into the waste basket". The 11th Congress proclaimed that "every additional interference by the trade unions in the administration of enterprises must be absolutely recognised as injurious and forbidden". It also staled that "the resort to strikes in a country with a proletarian government can be described only as a survival of the capitalist past and institutions on the one hand, and as showing the lack of political development and the cultural backwardness of the toilers on the other".

Such statements by the Communist Party were no mere idle threats. Rather, they were so acted upon that the Russian trade unions became mere auxiliaries of the government. For example when the Fourth Congress of Trade Unions in 1921 approved by a 1500 to in vote a resolution that selection of union leader should be made by the organised masses themselves, the Chairman Tomsky was dismissed of his post by Lenin and Stalin and sent to Turkesian, and the mover of the resolution. Ryazaitov. head of the Marx-Engels Institute, was forbidden to engage in any activities associated with the labour movement.

The trade unions are in a similar position in Czechoslovakia, where their primary function is not to defend the workers interests but to "co-operate with works' managements and form a single entity with them, for their interests are identical", livery attempt at [unclear: democratisation] and the establishment of workers control has been brutally suppressed, in Rumania strikes are apparently crimes against the state. A Rumanian law of January 13th. 1949, for example, provided the death penalty for anyone failing "with premeditation" to fulfil working obligations.

The Chinese position is very similar. The official news agency. [unclear: "Hsinhua"]. criticised in November last year "the neglect of ideological education" in Shanghai factories which had led to "slack discipline", "moral deterioration", and even demands "for more pay for the workers' The president of the All China Trade Union Federation, Lai [unclear: Jo-yu]. declared that trade unions exist to "educate the workers, to correct their disrespectful attitude to the administrative personnel". Mow similar this statement is to one that appeared in a Prague journal in October. 1951, stating that trade unions exist "to create a political atmosphere". It seems that Communism is the same the whole world over.


Under the Holland Government strikes are crimes against the State, the world is the same the whole world over.—Ed.)