Report and Resolution on Industrial Activity 1923
The "Report on Industrial Activity" was presented to the Second Workers Party Convention in February 1923 by Tim Buck, the party's "Industrial Organizer." It was printed in slightly modified form in The Worker and then reprinted in Labor Organization in Canada 1923.
Report on Industrial Activity
In presenting his report the industrial organizer drew attention to the fact that our industrial policy, being as it was, a new departure in the field of revolutionary politics, presented the party with new tasks and problems, a fact which it was necessary to bear in mind when reviewing our work and measuring our accomplishments.
Adopting a broad viewpoint and advocating unity of action on the part of all workers regardless of the name of the organization to which they belong, the progress we have made in industrial activity during the past year is very gratifying. In face of the apathy and in many places actual hostility to cooperation in any form whatsoever, it is almost sufficient to challenge belief.
With organized groups of party members in sixteen central labour councils, over sixty local railroad bodies, throughout both districts of the coal miners, in two big metal mining camps, and a great many of the largest lumbering centers; it can be safely said that our membership constitutes a continuous thread of militant activity stretching from coast to coast. While the work is still of necessity in its initial stages, positive results so far are such as to justify us in the belief that we are on the high road to becoming the dominant influence in the left wing union movement all over the country. The miners of Nova Scotia, the Edmonton strike and the Alberta Federation convention are three of the outstanding activities upon which the party membership made their influence felt. Even more important, however, in its implications is the fact that we have no less than fifty-six organized groups of railroad workers stretching from coast to coast and including representatives of thirteen out of the sixteen standard crafts with three of the so-called Big Four.
Co-operating with the rebel element in the railroad, building trades, needle trades and other unions, our members are finding a common ground of struggle in the programme of the Trade Union Educational League, and wherever possible our members are urged to take the initiative in organizing lead groups and arousing interest in the rank and file movement for amalgamation. The left wing movement is developing into a broad mass movement and our party, having been by its clear and correct policy and aggressive activity one of the principal factors in developing the left wing movement to this point, it is vitally necessary that the work be intensified in every possible way.
While our policy was correct and we have been, on the whole, extremely successful, experience of the past year has demonstrated two tendencies present in almost every locality against which we must be on our guard, namely: The tendency to drop into the old position of negative opposition to officialdom and everybody else who is not a revolutionist or a good left winger. In many cases our membership are being forced into this position by the skillful manoeuvring of reactionaries and conservatives in the skirmishes which are to-day taking place in every local preliminary to the real struggle for rank and file control. It is essential that we study this problem carefully, and rather than being forced into opposition let us take the initiative on a positive programme of concrete demands, fight for something the rank and file want such as amalgamation (in the case of miners, loggers, etc., international affiliation). These today are real needs and slogans expressing the desires of the rank and file. Organize a group around these slogans and far from dogmatically opposing officialdom, officialdom will quickly declare itself and give you a clear-cut issue. The other danger is the tendency of lining up with centrists, twisters, fakirs and all who pay lip service to revolutionary ideals and progressive trade unionism. This is the greatest danger of all and can only be guarded against by making it impossible for any man to align himself with you without declaring definitely for a programme at least as advanced as that of the T.U.E.L.
Our immediate tasks are to make industrial work one of the principal activities of every branch; smash down the dogmatism and fatalism with which many of our members are still imbued, and co-operate with all rebel elements on an immediate programme of militant unions, leading the workers ever leftward, ever into greater unity and clarity, inspiring the rank and file with the desire for self-expression, thereby insuring success in the great struggles of the future for Communism.
The second annual convention of the Workers' Party of Canada reaffirmed its labour union policy adopted at the first convention. Experience of the past year has definitely proved the soundness of this policy, particularly in combating the disruptive influence of dual unionism and secession, setting up in their place a policy of unity through amalgamation of the craft unions into industrial unions powerful enough to protect the workers, and broad enough to include every worker in the industry. The policy of fighting for militant leadership, as against the passive and reformist bureaucracy, has yielded great results and has proved that the workers of Canada are ready for a forward step in labour unionism. They are preparing to take this step in conjunction with the militant unionists of the United States, under the leadership of the Workers' Party of Canada, which has been the outstanding exponent of unity in the labour movement. The slogans of amalgamation, the Labour Party, and the Red International, have taken firm root in the Canadian Unions.
United action of Workers' Party members with all other sincere and progressive workers for our trade union programme has been brought about through the medium of the Trade Union Educational League. We call upon all our members to participate in the activity of the league, and wholeheartedly support its work; to identify themselves with the international industrial committees being established, such as the International Committee for the Amalgamation of the Sixteen Standard Railway Unions, and to keep the Canadian movement firmly united in one uniform movement covering the North American continent; with one common programme of amalgamation, militant leadership and the rest of the league programme. The fate of the Canadian left wing is entirely bound up with that of the United States. National autonomy is an illusion; international unity the need.
Experience of the past year has proved that we must definitely oppose certain tendencies in the labour movement. Particularly is this true of such disruptive efforts as those of officials of the One Big Union, which, through the so-called Western Shopmen's Committee, attempted to set up claims to represent railroaders, not by bringing them into the organization, but merely on the strength of an indiscriminate collection of signatures. This is on a par with the rankest peonage system of the most reactionary unions, and cannot be tolerated in a healthy labour movement. We will fight such destructive tactics with all the strength at our command.
The party pledges itself to support all real organization campaigns to organize the unorganized. In those fields and industries where there are no unions, party members will form themselves into propaganda nuclei, to prepare the ground and give active assistance to the unions. Particularly do we call upon our foreign-born members to take hold of this work with vigor. The solidarity of the native-born with the foreign-born workers is a crying need in the union movement.
Unity of the Canadian with the American left wing, as well as unity of the native with the foreign-born worker, necessitates a systematic campaign of education. One of the principal means to this end is the labour press. Our party press should give special attention to these problems, and The Worker should be given a prime place in trade union work. In addition, the organs of more general circulation and importance must be circulated as much as possible. This is particularly true of the "Labour Herald" among all trade unionists, of the "Amalgamation Advocate" among the railroaders, "The Industrialist" of New York among the printing trade workers, etc. Party branches, as well as T.U.E.L. groups, should regularly sell and distribute these papers, especially the "Labour Herald". Members should maintain the closest possible relations with The Worker and left wing press in general, furnishing them with all news and information concerning developments in Canada, such as the adoption of amalgamation resolutions and decisions, etc.
We recognize the labour unions as the basic organizations of the working class, and are convinced that no party can become the guiding influence in the revolutionary movement except it is rooted deeply in these organizations. The Workers' Party calls upon its members everywhere to continue and intensify their trade union work, which is rapidly giving our party this necessary foundation. This is the basic and fundamental preparation which alone can build up the necessary power leading to the establishment of the workers' republic.
Copyright South Branch Publishing. All