500C.115 28th Conference/6: Telegram

The Acting Secretary of State to the Ambassador in the Soviet Union (Harriman)8

1107. You will recall that under date September 25, messages were sent to Moscow (Department’s 906) and to London, stating that it [Page 1009] was the view of this Government that a regular Conference of the International Labor Organization should be convened in the immediate future for the purpose of making recommendations to the United Nations as to postwar labor policy, and that participation by the U.S.S.R. in such a conference would be highly desirable. The Department has received a reply from the British9 expressing general agreement with these views and indicating that Mr. Eden intended to raise this question at Moscow if opportunity is offered.10

The British question the feasibility of arranging a conference by December or January in view of the technical requirements of the International Labor Organization constitution. The Department has replied11 that the Chairman of the Governing Body believes that this is an obstacle which can be overcome. The British have also reverted to their previous suggestion that the place of meeting should be in London, to which the Department has replied that the suggestion of Montreal arises out of the suggestion of the Prime Minister and the President during the stay of the Prime Minister in Washington in September.12

The British, in discussing the desirability of inviting the Soviet Union, alluded to objections heretofore raised to the credentials of the Soviet delegates representing workers and employers, and the Department has replied that this Government believes that ways and means can be found prior to the issuance of a formal invitation to the Soviet Government to assure that objections to a Soviet delegation will not be raised at the Conference.

With respect to agenda, the British suggested that consideration of labor standards and policy among the United Nations and labor policies to be applied in areas conquered or occupied by them might not prove acceptable to neutral states which are members of the International Labor Organization. The Department has replied to London agreeing with the British that this is not a substantial difficulty, that it can be handled by appropriate drafting and that in any event the preponderance of interest of the United Nations is so great as to justify raising these questions.

The Department is proposing to inform the British that in connection with the preparation of the agenda it will suggest that the [Page 1010] Conference devote its major attention to the formulation of recommendations to the United Nations on:

Labor policy in occupied territories.
Social aims and economic policy.
Labor provisions of the peace settlement.
Minimum standards of security for workers demobilized from the armed forces and war industries, including international machinery for the maintenance of full employment.

The Department urges that you take occasion to encourage a favorable and early Soviet response with regard to participation in the Conference, and suggests that in this connection it may be desirable, unless the Secretary12a perceives objection, informally to acquaint the U.S.S.R. with the above-mentioned agenda items, pointing out that they are only tentative. They are suggested by the Department of Labor. Please notify the Department if you are going to communicate them to the Soviet Government so that the same points may be brought to the attention of the British simultaneously.13

The radical press in this country is demanding that an international conference of labor leaders be called to discuss postwar labor problems. We are advised that a resolution to that effect may be passed by the C.I.O.14 Convention next week but that a favorable decison on an I.L.O. conference would forestall such action.

Please give a copy of this message to the Delegation.

  1. W. Averell Harriman was appointed Ambassador to the Soviet Union on October 7, 1943, succeeding Admiral Standley.
  2. Telegram 7272, October 22, 1943, not printed.
  3. Anthony Eden, British Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, was in Moscow attending the Foreign Ministers’ Conference, held October 18–November 1, 1943. For documentation on the Conference, see Foreign Relations, 1943, vol. i, pp. 513 ff. Ambassador Winant reported in telegram 8210, November 24, 1943, from London, that the opportunity to raise the question of Soviet participation did not occur at the Moscow Conference (500.C115 28th Conference/14).
  4. Telegram 6732, October 27, 1943, to London, not printed.
  5. Winston S. Churchill visited Washington following the Quebec Conference of August 17–24, 1943.
  6. Secretary Hull was in Moscow attending the Foreign Ministers’ Conference.
  7. The Ambassador in the United Kingdom was informed in telegram 6944, November 4, 1943, that the American Embassy in the Soviet Union would discuss with the Soviet Government on November 4 the question of Soviet participation in the proposed Conference and, at the same time, would informally acquaint the Soviet Government with the four items of an agenda suggested by the United States Department of Labor (500C.115 28th Conference/6).
  8. Congress of Industrial Organizations.