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Industrial Transference


INDUSTRIAL TRANSFERENCE. In the normal course of industrial development the decline of particular industries (or, as has more frequently happened, of particular crafts) occurs gradually, and the adjustment of the personnel of the trade or craft to its reduced demand for labour accomplishes itself, with out mass distress, through such natural processes as the retirement or death of its ageing workers, the reluctance of youths to enter a declining trade where working conditions are bad and prospects worse, and the continuous voluntary exodus from the industry of persons of all ages attracted by the better conditions prevail ing and prospects offered in other industries in the neighbour hood or, maybe, in another part of the country, or of the world. This organic readjustment has not always taken place in such rapid and thorough fashion as to provide against any and all cases of individuals or communities being left stranded by the receding of their craft, but for at least a century and a half prior to the close of the World War the development of trade, com merce and industry was such as to create an absorptive power which in good time drew sufficient surplus labour from the de clining industries or areas to reduce the position there to locally manageable proportions. After the armistice, however, British in dustry found itself in a position in which the decline of certain industries from their pre-war or swollen post-war dimensions was so rapid, and the expansion of other industries needing increased numbers of workpeople so halting, that large numbers of in dividuals skilled in particular crafts, and large blocks of the in dustrial population located in depressed areas, were left for several years in a chronic state of under-employment for which the in ternal readjustment of the industrial organism provided no escape. It was the coal, iron and steel, engineering, shipbuilding, and, later, the cotton and woollen and some other staple industries which were found, as the post-war wave of prosperity subsided, to have workers in excess of their capacity for employment.

On the other hand certain industries and certain areas of Great Britain were enjoying an expansion and activity comparable with that of any good pre-war year. The south-eastern half of the kingdom was much more prosperous than the north-western half. There were industries—such as those in the chemical group, some branches of the textile trade, the clothing trade, the printing trades, etc., whose rate for unemployment was round about 5 per cent. and in some cases as low as 3 per cent. There were whole counties in which the rate of unemployment was less than 3 per cent. Experience over the previous few years had shown that sur plus workers in the depressed areas and industries could, given favourable opportunity, find work in the more thriving areas and it seemed probable that with encouragement, guidance and assist ance the rate of this movement could be increased. But the em ployment exchange system was not cut out to move large groups of workpeople with their families from one part of the kingdom to another. One of the difficulties in the way of the trans ference of long-unemployed workers was the petty debt to trades men, and perhaps to the local authorities, incurred by the family whose head was unemployed ; another was the scarcity of houses, especially in the parts where employment was brisk. In these cir cumstances the Government announced on Jan. 6, 1928 the estab lishment of an Industrial Transference Board "for the purpose of facilitating the transfer of workers, and in particular of miners, for whom opportunities of employment in their own district or occupation are no longer available." See House of Commons Official Report Dec. 7, 1927. (J. H.)

industries, trade, workers, particular, cent and employment