Dublin Labour War 1913-14

Connolly and the Dublin lockout


Michael Johnson

Part eight of Michael Johnson’s series on the life and politics of James Connolly. The rest of the series can be found here.

While the Home Rule crisis raged in Ulster, the southern Irish labour movement was about to engage in a class battle of unprecedented militancy.

A hundred years since Ireland's Easter Rising


Matt Rawlins

By 1916 the history of Ireland had been inextricably linked with that of Britain for seven hundred years, and the connection had not been a happy one.

The English (and later, British) imperialists took several centuries to conquer Ireland, in the process committing many atrocities and persecuting the Gaelic Irish. After the religious Reformation, conflict between Catholics and Protestants came to be central in Irish life. There were many uprisings, most significantly that of the United Irishmen in 1798, inspired by the French Revolution.

Dublin 1913: the “proletarian army” is born

A hundred years ago (on 26 August 2013) tram workers in Dublin struck after their employer had tried to stop them being members of the Irish Transport and General Workers' union. The strike spread, eventually involving 20,000 workers, and lasted eight months.

The isolation of Dublin

We continue our series of articles by James Connolly about the 1913-14 Labour War in Dublin, and the power of the solidarity strike.

On 9 December 1913, a special TUC conference considered a militant motion in favour of solidarity action with Dublin; union leaders opposed it, and won. As Connolly wrote afterwards, Dublin was isolated.

Dublin 1913

The Dublin Labour War was one of the great battles of the working class. In 1913, under the leadership of Jim Larkin, the working class of Dublin was making Dublin one of the best organised cities in the world.

Dublin’s slums were officially admitted to be among the worst in the British Empire. Infant mortality was higher there than in Calcutta. During the 1914-18 war, a British Army recruiting leaflet would tell the workers of Dublin that the war trenches of France were healthier than the slums of Dublin! But now the workers were on the move.

The Dublin Labour War of 1913


When Margaret Thatcher's Tories outlawed "secondary" or solidarity strikes, they knew what they were doing.

The solidarity strike had defeated the ruling class again and again throughout the 1960s and 70s.

When they come out in sympathetic strike, workers act on behalf of interests not directly or narrowly their own. This is class action far more advanced than mere sectional trade-union action. Implicitly, and sometimes openly, it challenges capitalist rule in society.

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