THE PROBLEM OF THE TRADE UNION

 

By FRANK E. BATSON

 

[This review by Mr. Batson, a railway employee who has been in the heart of the trouble, although it is exceedingly definite in outlook, may help us all to a conclusion on a difficult and most dangerous problem. D. M. Panton.]

 

SEVEN reasons why membership of a trade union is unacceptable to me as a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

(1) Because the trade union method of obtaining its demands, by threats, and, if necessary, strike action is directly contrary to the spirit and teaching of the New Testament (e.g., Matthew 5 :1-12, 38-48; Luke 6: 27-36; Romans 12: 17-21; 2 Timothy 2: 24; Hebrews 12: 14; 1 Peter 2: 18-20; James 5: 6-8). The strike is war on the general community; an industrial sword bringing distress and suffering on many, and making victims of the innocent, as has been so frequently proved in recent disputes.

 

(2) Because I cannot surrender my freedom of decision and action and allow others, especially unsaved worldly men, to decide for me as to withdrawing my labour, when I may not even agree with the demands which they make and strike for.

 

(3) Because a trade union, as it stands constitutionally, can be antagonistic to Government authority, and even a revolutionary organisation. This has been proved by the recent dispute in America between the 'United Mineworkers' Union' led by John L. Lewis and the American Government. The following official statement at Brighton by Mr. Vincent Tewson, general secretary of the British Trades Union Congress, on October 23, 1946, also proves this:- "If there emerges a challenge which is translated into some form of threat, either industrially or Politically,* neither the unions nor this Congress will fail to accept it."

 

[* By this I understand him to mean that should any Government issue any order, etc., which the Unions do not agree with, they will oppose in any way which they consider necessary.]

 

N.B.-The character, function and order of man's earthly rule and ordinances in this present dispensation, which receive Divine approval, are set forth by God in the New Testament, and can be briefly summarised thus:- A supreme ruling authority (1 Peter 2: 13) which discharges its responsibilities by punishing evildoers (Romans 13: 3; 1 Peter 2: 14), and praising them that do well (Romans 13: 3; 1 Peter 2: 14). "It is the office of the State to behold the mighty conflict between truth and error, light and darkness, with strict impartiality, protecting all in their rights and patronising none." (Robert Key). Rulers of lesser authority to be sent (appointed) by the supreme authority (1 Peter 2: 14) and therefore obedient and not antagonistic to it. To these God's people, as strangers and pilgrims (1 Peter 2 : 11) and ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5: 20) in a foreign land (Hebrews 13: 14), are to submit (Romans 13: 1-2; 1 Peter 2: 13; Titus 3: 1); giving honour to all according to their positions and stations in the realm (Romans 13: 7; 1 Peter 2: 17), and disobeying only when their commands clash with Divine dispensational commands (e.g., Acts 4: 19).

 

Any departure from this, God's standard of earthly rule, as given in the New Testament, must necessarily cause the Christian to regulate and adjust his attitude accordingly; but he should endeavour at all times to manifest that Christ-like spirit of gentleness and meekness, and show respect to all in authority, according to their position and office (Titus 3: 2).

 

(4) Because I have Christian brothers and sisters working in industry, who feel that membership of a trade union is contrary to God's will as revealed in Holy Scripture. When the 'closed shop' policy (i.e., compulsory trade union membership for all) is enforced, they are expelled from their jobs. I should therefore be supporting an organisation which persecutes my brothers and sisters in Christ (Romans 14: 10).

 

(5) Because trade union policy is shaped by unsaved worldly men with 'utopian' ideas and views. They look for an ideal kingdom brought about by their own activities, which is a point-blank contradiction of prophecy concerning the end of this age; a denial of the Christian's hope concerning Christ's coming for His faithful, watching people, and later with them to establish His Kingdom. By membership, I should be giving them the impression that their views and policy are right, whereas I know it is all heading up for Revelation 13: 16-18.

 

(6) Because it entangles me in a 'brotherhood' with the unregenerate, contrary to the counsel of God (2 Corinthians 6:14-18). The idea of 'brotherhood' is very strongly implied in trade union literature.

 

(7) Because it involves me in a share in 'ruling' in this present evil age and therefore before the time, for which the Corinthian believers were rebuked (1 Corinthains 4: 8-14, 21); instead of going forth unto Jesus without the camp, bearing His reproach (Hebrews 13: 13), and suffering with Him (2 Timothy 2: 12).

 

It should be a cause for praise and thankfulness to God to observe that "the trade unions have been given a direct hint, by the British Government, to consider giving membership exemption to all workers who have religious objections to trade unionism." Trade union leaders have also said that "the Government hint would be considered by their executive councils." Let us continue to pray that, for the sake of our brothers and sisters in Christ, faced with possible dismissal from their jobs because of their non-union attitude, this may soon be brought to pass.*

 

[* In order to prove to trade union officials and fellow-workers in the union that his attitude is one of principle and not 'finance,' he can offer to pay the trade union rate of contribution to any orphanage, hospital, or similar institution which they would like to name.]

 

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