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Resolutions on Labour Unions (1922)

These resolutions were adopted by the WPC founding convention, February 18, 1922. They were originally printed in The Worker and reprinted in Labor Organization in Canada 1922.

Workers' Party Resolutions
on Labour Unions

1. The trade union movement of Canada in common with the trade union movement of the world is experiencing the gravest crisis in its history. Already before the world war the policies and structure of the trade unions were being proved inadequate to cope with the growing concentration and solidarity of capital. But the changes wrought in the very basis of capitalism as a result of the world war have made it impossible to postpone any longer a re-examination and solution of the problems that confront the trade union movement, particularly the problems of policy and organization.

In order to re-establish the equilibrium of capitalism, the capitalist class has launched a general offensive for the reduction of the workers' living standards, making at the same time a determined onslaught for the destruction of the trade union movement itself. Utterly unprepared for this attack, the trade unions are almost everywhere in disorderly retreat. All along the line wage reductions are being enforced with only the slightest resistance on the part of the unions. With equal helplessness the trade unions face the problem of unemployment. Unless the unions begin to understand that the era of conciliation and arbitration in the class struggle is passed, and recognize the changed conditions of the struggle between capital and labour, there is danger that the efforts of the capitalist class will succeed.

Under these circumstances the most vital task which confronts the working class is the establishment of a united front to resist the aggressions of the capitalist class. It follows that the role of the labour unions in the building up of this united front is to bring about the co-ordination and consolidation of the entire labour union movement of the country on the basis of militant struggles. Not only, however, is this consolidation necessary, but equally essential is the international organization of all the militant unions of the world. The only force that has proven itself capable of recognizing the needs of the trade union movement imposed by the changed conditions, and capable of rallying all the militant forces of the world labour movement, is the Red International of Labour Unions.

2. To accomplish the tasks indicated above, not only must the policy pursued by some groups in the past of seeking to revolutionize the labour movement by splitting away to form new ideal unions be completely abandoned, not only must dual unionism be vigorously combated, but all tendencies to consolidate the trade union movement by amalgamating the related crafts on the basis of one union for each industry must be positively fostered within the existing trade unions. Towards this end the membership of the Workers' Party will work in co-operation with all militant elements in the unions for the formation and development of a left wing. Along with this effort, towards the formation of industrial unions, goes the policy of strengthening the local and district councils for the purpose of coordinating the activities of the various labour unions in matters confined to the local situation. In all localities and industries, where the old trade unions are definitely the predominant bodies, the Workers' Party will oppose all dual unions or secessionist efforts. In localities or industries where the independent unions have achieved some measure of constructive organization, and where the old trade unions are weak, the membership of the Workers' Party will work within their respective organizations for the purpose of bringing about united action in all struggles, while seeking at the same time to bring about their unification with the general labour union movement. In these instances, where for various reasons the dominant union is outside the general labour union movement, the Workers' Party will support such unions in all regular organization matters while endeavouring at the same time to align them with the general organized movement.

The Workers' Party calls attention to the difference in function between the Workers' Party and the labour unions. The unions necessarily include even the most backward and politically unconscious elements of the working class. The Workers' Party, on the other hand, confines its membership to the more politically conscious. Nevertheless the attitude of seeming political neutrality adopted by the trade unions really plays into the hands of the capitalist class, and must be abandoned and the trade unions brought into alignment with the militant international labour movement finding its expression in the Red International of Labour Unions. The membership of the Workers' Party will assist in the consolidation of the labour unions on militant lines by permeating these organizations with a revolutionary spirit, exposing the reactionary and treacherous policies of the labour unions' bureaucracy, stimulating the sense of aggressive rank and file control, and resisting to the utmost the expulsion of militants and the splitting up of the unions in general.

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