Paul Foot

AEF Leaders Give Up
the Fight

(30 November 1968)

From Socialist Worker, No. 99, 30 November 1968, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

WITH HARDLY, a discussion the majority of the National Committee of the Amalgamated Engineering and Foundryworkers’ Union voted on Friday November 22 to accept the employers proposals for the engineering workers over the next three years.

The AEF President, Hugh Scanlon, argued that a national engineering strike should still be called. He was outvoted by 31 to 23.

This was a bigger majority against militant action than at any other time during the long drawn-out dispute.

By their cowardly vote, the committee’s majority have condemned the men and women they represent to three years’ work study, three years’ ’measured day work’, three years’ flexibility – above all to three years in which the shop stewards, the only representatives of the workers on the shop floor, will be hamstrung and obstructed by continued interference from union officials.

‘Wage drift’, through which shop floor workers could force their wages up by up to £1 a week every year, will now be a matter, not for the steward but the union official and the boss.

No wonder that Mr. Martin Jukes, director general of the Engineering Employers’ Federation, told the Financial Times:

‘I am very glad they have accepted and we hope the Confederation will adopt the same attitude.’

Mr. Jukes’ hopes were fulfilled. On Monday November 25, the Confederation Engineering Committee humbly fell into line with the AEF. Only the Transport and General Workers representatives opposed the deal.

Now, however, come reports that the government, who strongly supported the employer’s proposals during the agreement, is threatening to refer the agreement to the Prices and Incomes Board.

What will the AEF National Committee, do then?

How can they create any militancy and opposition to the PIB from a rank and file whose declared militancy and willingness to fight they have blatantly ignored?

Last updated on 22 October 2020