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(en) France, Alternative Libertaire AL #233 - 1913: Bosses declare war on workers Dublin (fr, pt)[machine translation]

Date Sun, 26 Jan 2014 15:06:00 +0200


From August 1913 to January 1914, Dublin was the scene of a large-scale social confrontation when united bosses decided to close their factories to stop the spread of a new radical unionism remains still incarnated in the Jim Larkin. Our comrades of the Workers Solidarity Movement (Anarkismo member) offer an interpretation of this event opposite the nationalist narrative that reduces to a simple walking step towards independence. ---- In 1913, Dublin is a city of stark contrasts. For many employers and landlords, it is a city of balls, concerts and servants to meet their every need. For most workers, this is a city of precarious employment and stinking slums where the disease is spreading inexorably. To quote Charles Cameron, chief medical officer at Dublin: "In the housing of the poor, the seeds germinate infectious diseases as surely as in a greenhouse."

Thousands of people work 60 hours a week to pay for them just to survive. On average, women are paid half as much as men. Salaries teenagers, many also work, are even more ridiculous.

New unionism

When the first Irish Congress of Trade Unions held in 1894, only 17,476 people are unionized. There are many guilds in Dublin, but most take a conservative line and forge alliances of convenience with the bosses.

We generally associate the birth of the "new unionism" James Larkin and James Connolly [ 1 ]. The Irish Transport & General Workers Union (Irish Workers Union and Transport) was born January 4, 1909. There are then available to all local as one piece in a building and a spartan furniture: "Two chairs, a table, two empty bottles and a candle."

Strikes and lock-outs [ 2 ] multiply, amount power, from the great conflict Belfast 1907 sees dock workers Protestants and Catholics join forces to strike newsboys Dublin in 1911.

A central element of this movement is the practice of solidarity strikes, James Connolly analysis as "recognition by the working class of its essential unity." Among many examples of this practice include the refusal of dockers to deliver the goods to companies whose employees are on strike.

Between 1911 and 1913, the union achieves significant victories, mainly due to the strategy of solidarity strikes. Its membership increases and extends to new professions. With its strong presence in transport, freight flows can be interrupted at any time according to the movements of strikes.

Offensive against employers

In response, 400 of the largest employers in Dublin launched their employees an ultimatum: resign from the union or promise never to join, if you lose your job. Large landowners imitate quickly. These patterns are led by William Martin Murphy, a former Irish nationalist MP and owner of the company tram, hotels and department store among others. It also has the Irish Independent newspaper, the Evening Herald and Irish Catholic.

August 21, 1913, nearly 200 men and boys from the tram company are evicted from their job for not having renounced their union membership. Five days later, Murphy receives a shock. At ten drivers out badges union and plant them in his buttonhole. Then they get off their trams, leaving in the street. Workers and workers of Dublin waging a heroic resistance against the lock out that generalized begins. Women and men leave the factories rather than leave the union. Thus, at the beginning of October, about 30,000 people are already returned. Thirty two unions are fighting for the rights of transport workers and freedom of association.

Major means

From the beginning of the fight, the collusion between the British bosses and the state is clear, especially when Larkin was arrested for having advised the workers to defend themselves against police attacks. Released on parole, he should be the main speaker at a giant rally in central Dublin on August 31. The meeting is prohibited, but Larkin announced that he will speak anyway.

Dublin all waiting to see if he will keep his promise, the streets are crowded. Suddenly, a bearded man appears on the balcony of the Imperial Hotel, owned by Murphy. Larkin gets rid of the false beard. But then he starts talking, he was immediately arrested. The police charged the crowd brutally with sticks, their obsession with men, women and children spilled into the street. Hospitals welcome hundreds of victims that night. This brutality is implemented consistently throughout the city. One of the most outrageous incidents took place when the police attack a block of buildings in the city center where many strikers resident. The load is given at 2 on a Monday morning. Residents fought regardless of their age or sex, including a baby a few months, their houses ransacked.

In other attacks, police smashes the skull of James Nolan, a young trade unionist, and beat to death John Byrne. Alice Bradley, striker 16, dies after a scab armed shoots him. Michael Byrne, a local union secretaries, died shortly after being released by the police.

Solidarity, sinews of war

Faced with these attacks, Larkin says that workers and workers must be armed to defend themselves, which leads to the creation of the Irish Citizen Army (Army of the Irish people), a workers' militia armed with clubs and bats to protect police and scabs [ 3 ].

British unions collect 150,000 books for Dublin, which means a lot at this time [ 4 ]. Boats of food sent by the Trade Union Congress (the great British trade union confederation) help maintain momentum. But as the strike continues, the suffering increases.

Despite enormous efforts, such as the installation of a giant kitchen at the union headquarters, the children of strikers begin to suffer from starvation policy organized by Murphy. Solidarity, the British offered to host children home until the situation improves. Despite assurances that the children can keep their religion, Dr. Walsh, Archbishop of Dublin, opposes this initiative. For him, if children are sent to live in comfortable houses with three meals a day, they will never agree to return to their slums. Thus, gang led by priests trying to prevent children from taking the boat or train.

Employers, feeling they are about to win, refuse to give security for the employee-es are not discriminated against when they are rehired or-es. From January 1914, the resumption of work begins. A month later, there are still 5,000 people who resist in the most extreme poverty, taking the last until March.

This defeat is very bitter. The former strikers are victims of discrimination, the union is on the verge of financial collapse and the number of members at the lowest. But in October 1915, he was strong enough to emerge victorious from a fight in the port of Dublin. Murphy tries well again to evict the strikers, but this time his friends refuse to follow because the costs are too high. And in 1921, the union reinforced with 120,000 members and adherent remembers the heroic struggle of 1913, which helped to create an awareness and class solidarity among workers and workers of Dublin.

Alan MacSimoin. Translation David (AL Alsace)

[ 1 ] James Larkin is a trade unionist born in Liverpool in 1876 to Irish parents. He was sent to Scotland, the United States and Ireland to develop trade unionism, which he did in a radical spirit and uniting Catholics and Protestants. James Connolly was born in Edinburgh, Scotland to Irish parents in 1868. Activist and Marxist theorist, he participated in the Independent Labour Party (left split from the Labour Party).

[ 2 ] The lockout is a kind of "strike employer" which is to temporarily close a plant to counter a strike or workers' movement by preventing a possible occupation of the plant or to push non-strikers, who are no longer paid against the strikers.

[ 3 ] The bats will be replaced by guns when the CIA participate in the Easter Rising of 1916.

[ 4 ] This debt will be repaid during the strikes of British miners in 1984/85, Ireland is the country that sends the most funding per capita.
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