These two parties still divide the world
Of those that have and those that want.
As Tennyson’s verse shows, Labour-Capital disputes are not a recent growth, although with the mechanization of modern industry and the introduction of the factory system in the 19th century they became very common. The development of capitalistic enterprise has widened the gulf between the rich and the poor and we are now faced with two classes in every society-one with large dinners, and no appetite and the other with large appetites and no dinners. Strikes and lockouts have become the order of the day. The workers want higher wages living wage shorter hours of work, better living and working conditions, some control in management, and last but not least, some measure of social security. The capitalists, on the other hand, are interested in feathering their own nest and exploiting and fleecing them as much as they can by paying them competitive wages, regardless of their welfare, and are opposed to any scheme of labour copartnership or workers’ control. This antagonism is thus the product of divergent aims and ends.
The results of these conflicts very grave. From the national viewpoint, labour disputes are a calamity. They mean los of working hours, dimination of output and consequent loss of national wealth and inconvenience to the general public. From the point of view of their effect on workers, they result in widespread bitterness, privation and suffering for the working class. That is why Government through an elaborate machinery of Works Committees, Conciliation Boards. Industrial Courts, Arbitration Boards etc., tries to ensure harmonious industrial relations and reduce these conflicts to the minimum. But in spite of all these, it has not been possible to bring about industrial peace.
If we go deep down into the question, we shall find that the problem is not one of mere wage increase. The problem is as much human as it is economic. In the ex-cathedra opinion of Mohammad Ali Jinnah industrial disputes are the outcome of lack of understanding between the employers and employees. If the bigwigs of :: industry take a human view of these, conflicts, these troubles will become rare. The workers’ refusal to make unlimited profits for their employer who refused to share those ill-gotten gain with them is understandable. If the employers become the ‘trustees’ of their workers, the problem will cease to exist. The tug-of-war will vanish. What is needed is to reimagine the situation by changing places mentally with these beasts of burden, seeking better conditions of works. Nothing will be achieved by unimaginative refusal to move, refusal to reimagine the situation. After all the problem is not insoluble. Till there is mutual change of hearts there will be unhappiness, antagonism unrest and disaster. The problem calls for a sympathetic and imaginative approach to the entire issue. Shall the leaders of the industry fail to rise to the occasion? Not, unless they are determined to be swept away by the whirlwinds of rebellion which are sure to shake all shores, if cordial relations are no established. They should remember that a contented working class is a great blessing. Why should they even object to proft-sharing? After all it is they who make these profits. Adoption of reconciling methods with mental reservation will not do.
One revolutionary cure for labour-capital troubles is the socialization of all industry. The State acquires the various industrial units and runs them for the good of the country and the welfare of the workers. Thus all the profits which are now usurped by the capitalists will be available for raising the standard of living of the workers. Our Constitution aims at the establishment of economic equality by gradual socialization of all industry. This will solve the problem for all time to come. But we have to be on our guard against hasty socialisation. In the U.K., the recent socialisation of some industries (of coal) has created problems of a serious nature. Inefficiency has been on the increase In spite of high wages offered, there is a general disinclination to avoid distasteful work. Reports reveal a very unsatisfactory situation. So we have to be careful. We must wait and watch. If modern-day States, become, “welfare States” in the real sense within the framework of the capitalistic system of production, things would improve. That would ensure better standards of living for workers and at the same time secure organisational efficiency for the industry in general. Tliat is how we can secure the best of both the worlds.