1913 Dublin Lockout Centenary Conference

Organised by the University of Salford and Working Class Movement Library

Saturday 19 October, 2013 10.30am-4.30pm

Old Fire Station, University of Salford, The Crescent, Salford M5 4WT

2013 marks the centenary of the infamous Dublin Lockout, the most important industrial struggle in Irish history. When some 25,000 workers were promptly locked out of their workplaces by over 400 employers for refusing to sign an undertaking not to be a member of Jim Larkin’s Irish Transport and General Workers Union (ITGWU), there was a concerted attempt to crush independent and militant trade union organisation.

With inspirational defiance, courage and tenacity, the Dublin workers, led by Larkin and the ITGWU, held out for nearly six months between 26 August 1913 and 18 January 1914. Workers with the lowest wages and the worst living standards in Western Europe, many of them casual labourers, jointed together in an attempt to fight the employers to a standstill. It was a battle of epic proportions.

Yet while most accounts of the Dublin Lockout consider it primarily as an event in Irish history, it was also one of the most important struggles in twentieth century British history; probably the only other comparable event was the national miners’ strike of 1984-5. Influenced by, and an integral part (if not the highpoint) of the great ‘labour unrest’ that swept Britain in the years 1910-14, and with the fight for solidarity with the Dublin workers carried right into the heart of the British labour movement, the lockout was to have tremendous repercussions in Britain as well as in Ireland.

The defeat of the strikers and the success of the lockout strengthened the power of employers in Ireland, and was subsequently to be reflected in some of the post-war tactics used by British employers, notably in the 1926 General Strike.

At this centenary one-day national conference (organised jointly by the University of Salford and Working Class Movement Library) leading specialists in the fields of labour history and contemporary employment relations in both Ireland and Britain will revaluate the lockout’s causes, protagonists and dynamics, the extent of solidarity generated and reasons for ultimate defeat, as well as consider its legacy and enduring contemporary relevance.

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