Lockout Dublin 1913: The most famous labor dispute in Irish history: Dublin, 1913

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It also recommended that the sympathetic strike tactic should be dropped. As a result, public opinion was now resolutely behind the strikers, due to the perceived intransigence of the employers, but no direct action was offered by other trade unions, either in Dublin or Britain. Larkin had now begun to fully realise the importance of securing more substantial support from British trade unions.

Consequently, he embarked on a tour of Britain in a bid to whip up support for the workers in Dublin. However, he also generated opposition, criticising the British trade union leadership for their apparent timid response to the Dublin Lock-out. The Liberal government also began to feel the effect of the Dublin Lock-out as public pressure and sympathy for the strikers mounted.

The sentence was perceived as incredibly harsh and the outcry was immediate and widespread. On 1 November a meeting was held at Albert Hall, which no fewer than 40, people attended. The majority of those present pledged to attend the meeting of every Liberal minister and heckle incessantly until Larkin was released.


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  • On this day: The Dublin Lockout begins in 1913?

On 12 November a meeting was organised by the Civic League, a rejigged peace committee that had developed a bias for the workers. On the following evening, 13 November, the Civic League held its first public meeting and announced the formation of the Irish Citizen Army, which was more of a vigilante force than an army. Though there was some hope and enthusiasm injected into the struggle, the strikers, now entering their fourth month of unemployment and faced a harsh winter, even by Irish standards.

On the same day, 13 November, Larkin was released from prison and immediately launched further verbal attacks on the trade union leadership in Britain.


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Eventually a special session of the TUC was called for 9 September in order to prevent a split. Some delegates representing trade unions were present. At first, Connolly attempted to repair the division. When Larkin later took the rostrum, he lost all sense of tolerance and cohesion:. Mr Chairman and human beings.

I am not concerned whether you allow me to go on or not; I can deal with any of you at any place you like to name and if you are not going to give me the opportunity of replying to those foul lying statements it would only be what I expect from you. The speech had a disastrous effect on the chances of Dublin strikers securing the assistance that they needed to turn the tide against the employers.

Dublin lock-out

It was eventually agreed that the Joint Labour Board seek a meeting with the employers. This signalled a resounding defeat for the Dublin men as it was the employers who ended the last negotiations. The campaign was set up to alleviate the suffering of the children of the strikers. This entailed children of Dublin strikers being sent temporarily to British families. Members of the Catholic Church were horrified at the idea that Catholic children could be placed with Protestant families and they subsequently launched a range of protests against the campaign.

This reaction vilified the strikers in the eyes of the general public. Connolly tried to save face by suggesting that the ITGWU propose a compromise in order to prevent an all-out defeat. But the winter was too tough and families were hungry.

Dublin is isolated. If one looks at the immediate consequences of the Dublin Lock-out on Irish labour, the picture is a stark one.

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No wages had been increased, working conditions remained poor, the right to unionise was in tatters and the labour movement was devastatingly split. However, it would be erroneous to suggest that the lock-out was a complete failure. Never again would employers dare to treat workers with casual indifference or brutality, fearing the consequences of another lock-out on business in the city. It gave the social issue some prominence in Ireland, which had long been dwarfed by the nationalist issue.

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What is entirely clear is that the confrontation that was the Lockout took place in a city wracked with poverty, infant mortality, illness and near starvation. Overall, the death rate in Dublin in per thousand people was In London it was In the midst of this deprivation and exclusion, brave workers, despite an ultimatum from the employers who supported William Martin Murphy, refused to give up their membership of the Irish Transport and General Workers Union, and as a result were dismissed and locked out.

Events unfolded dramatically, particularly following the arrest, imprisonment and release on bail of union leader Jim Larkin, and the holding of a meeting that had been arranged by James Connolly and others for Sackville Street on Sunday, August 31st. Most commentators were in agreement that the Dublin Metropolitan Police, assisted by the RIC, had reacted with unnecessary violence at the August 31st meeting and Ireland was to experience its first Bloody Sunday, as a consequence of which three people died and more than were injured.


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  5. Donal Nevin, trade unionist and author, wrote that the moment of the Lockout has to be looked at in a broader international context. In the Ireland of there were a number of different themes informing the atmosphere of change. It was a time of agitated and urgent organisation on a number of themes — a cultural revival, a nationalist revival, and a suggested labour awakening. There was not only a sense of urgency but a sense of determination.

    President Michael D Higgins: ‘Knowledge of history is intrinsic to citizenship’

    The Lockout, and particularly the events of Bloody Sunday, August 31st, , saw artists responding to the society and to the crisis they saw unfolding around them. The Lockout of also compels us to ask questions about our role today in the wider international world of work — we are challenged to respond to the workplace tragedies of Pakistan, where textile workers were killed in a fire, or more recently in Bangladesh, where more than 1, textile workers were crushed in a building collapse.

    As global citizens we are required to respond to such disasters, informed by our own past, and those who assisted us, but conscious too of the benefits we have achieved in the past century as a result of those with the moral courage of a century ago, in establishing and seeking to vindicate the rights of workers. Despite holding out for 6 months hoping for change, the strikers were eventually forced to return to work due to the risk of starvation, without any changes to their conditions or wages. However, the strike proved that unions could affect the nature of business in Ireland and that workers could organize to achieve their goals.

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    The Lockout would have changed the lives of many millions of Irish citizens, not just Dubliners. If your Dublin ancestor suddenly joins the army in , it could be because they were blacklisted through trade union involvement. Related: Dublin. Toggle navigation. Trial begins in Australia for murder of Irish woman Ciara Glennon. Man charged in relation to the death of champion Irish dancer Adrian Murphy. Sister of Mayo man killed with his wife in horror New York crash speaks in court.

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