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Hundredth Anniversary of 1913 Lock-out: Motion (Resumed) [Private Members]

Vote from 19/06/2013


The following motion was moved by Deputy Joe Higgins on Tuesday, 18 June 2013: That Dáil Éireann:
on the 100th anniversary of the 1913 Lock-out, salutes the titanic struggle of the working class of Dublin for workers’ rights, trade union rights, and a decent and digni- fied life;


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Background information

The following motion was moved by Deputy Joe Higgins on Tuesday, 18 June 2013: That Dáil Éireann:
on the 100th anniversary of the 1913 Lock-out, salutes the titanic struggle of the working class of Dublin for workers’ rights, trade union rights, and a decent and digni- fied life;
— the brutal methods of the employers of Dublin, led by the then owner of Independent Newspapers William Martin Murphy, as they attempted to protect their profits by smashing the Irish Transport and General Workers Union, ITGWU, through starving its members into renouncing their union membership;
— that the employers commanded the full support of the State including the Dublin Metropolitan Police and Judiciary;
— that the employers had the full support of the Catholic Church, which sought to stigmatise striking workers and used the pulpit to denounce workers’ leaders like James Larkin and James Connolly and the socialist ideas that informed their struggle;
— that the capitalist and right wing press of the day was relentless in its support for the employers and rabid in its campaign of vilification and slander against the workers and their leaders; and
— that the hostility of the employers to the ITGWU members arose from the militant and effective tactics advocated by Connolly and Larkin and embraced by un-skilled workers in the years preceding 1913, in particular, the sympathy strike which was a powerful expression of working class solidarity summed up by the concept that “an injury to one is an injury to all”;
recognises that, irrespective of the difficult circumstances in which the Lock-out finished for workers, their sacrifices and struggle were a vital foundation stone for the development of the Irish labour and trade union movement and workers’ rights in subsequent generations and up to the present day;
further notes that:
— in 2013 the ethos driving the bailout of the financial markets system and the austerity agenda is exactly the same as that driving the Dublin employers, that is, the protection of corporate profit and the profit system;
— the socialist ideas espoused by Connolly and Larkin as an alternative to the capitalism of their day are as relevant in addressing today’s economic crisis;
— in enacting the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Bill 2013, the Government employs William Martin Murphy style blackmail in that, while he demanded workers sign a pledge to disavow the ITGWU, the Government demands that unless public sector workers sign up to a programme of cuts to wages and conditions, the Government will inflict even worse on them;
— the Labour Party, which came into being as a result of workers’ struggles in the years preceding 1913, is guilty of abject betrayal in driving the austerity agenda at enormous cost to working people, the unemployed, pensioners and the poor;
— those trade union leaders who try to justify recommending an acceptance of more austerity to their members by claiming they are defending them from worse, are in fact guaranteeing that conditions will worsen in the years ahead and, in this collusion with the austerity agenda, dishonour the men and women who waged the 1913 struggle and it’s leaders like Larkin and Connolly;
— today, efforts made by the trade union movement to organise, particularly in the private sector, typically meet with employer resistance and hostility;
— employers resisting trade union recognition today enjoy the protection of current laws and the courts;
— Registered Employment Agreements and Employment Regulation Orders pro- viding certain important legislative protection for workers have been struck down;
— employers seeking to impede effective picketing can typically with ease obtain injunctions from the courts which are then enforced by the Garda thus enabling strikebreaking operations to take place;
— employees seeking redress for unfair dismissal at the Employment Appeals Tribunal have an average wait of more than a year;
— awards made in favour of employees by the Employment Appeals Tribunal, under the Unfair Dismissals Acts 1977 to 2007, the Minimum Notice and Terms of Employment Acts 1973 to 2005 and the Organisation of Working Time Act 1997, for unfair dismissals, non-payment of wages in lieu of notice and non-payment of holiday pay respectively are often unenforceable when the offending company ceases trading or goes into liquidation; and
— similar delays and problems with enforcement of cases successfully brought to the Rights Commissioner under the Payment of Wages Act 1991 also occur; and
— that a trade union recognition bill be passed this year to make it mandatory for employers to recognise trade unions;
— that sections of the Industrial Relations Acts 1969 to 2001 that impede effective strike action, including solidarity or secondary action, should be repealed;
— that adequate resources are made available to the Employment Appeals Tribunal and Rights Commissioner that will allow cases to be heard within four weeks;
— that legislation be enacted to place employees owed wages, redundancy pay and Employment Appeal Tribunal awards by firms that have ceased trading or entered liquidation, first in the hierarchy of creditors;
— that a scheme of financial and other State supports be made, with immediate effect, to assist communities in Dublin and elsewhere to mark the centenary anniversary of the 1913 Lock-out with appropriate commemorative and educational events;
— that an appropriate memorial be established to commemorate the 1913 Lock- out, recognising the sacrifices made and, in particular, the five workers who lost their lives in the struggle; and
— to encourage workers and trade unionists to resist austerity in 2013 with the same solidarity and fighting spirit displayed by their predecessors during the 1913 Lock-out.

Debate resumed on amendment No. 1:
To delete all words after “Dáil Éireann” and substitute the following:
“at the start of a centenary of commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the 1913 Lock-out, recognises the landmark struggle for workers’ rights as a significant milestone in a decade that saw enormous convulsion in the emergence of an independent nation;
recognises the positive transformation in living and working conditions in Ireland, most recently reflected in the UN Human Development Index that, for 2012, ranks Ireland 7th out of 187 countries and territories based on measures of a long and healthy life, access to knowledge and a decent standard of living;
further recognises the legislative changes introduced by this Government to protect workers’ rights, especially the most vulnerable workers in our society, and in particular:
— to restore the cut in the national minimum wage, thereby reaffirming that a statutory minimum wage is a statement of core values, providing a threshold of de- cency under which society agrees that workers’ wages should not fall;
— through the enactment of the Industrial Relations (Amendment) Act 2012, to reinstate a legislative framework to support wage setting in sectors where workers are poorly organised and vulnerable; and
— to enact legislation (the Temporary Agency Workers Act 2012) to protect tem- porary agency workers through a legal framework in which agency workers are afforded equal treatment in respect of their basic working and employment conditions;
acknowledges the Government’s:
— commitment to providing for statutory wage setting mechanisms and, in this context, to conclude, as matter of urgency, its considerations of the implications of the recent Supreme Court decision relating to Registered Employment Agreements with a view to providing for a constitutionally robust legislative framework govern- ing registered collective agreements;
— resolve to continue to develop the voluntarist system of industrial relations which has yielded great progress for workers over the years and, in particular, welcomes:
— the reform of the Employment Rights and Industrial Relations framework that is under way, and presented to this House, and aimed at establishing a world class workplace relations service which will promote better relations in the work- place and facilitate speedier and more effective resolution of disputes which arise and highest compliance with employment standards; and
— the completion, in May this year, of a phase of consultation with key stakeholders in the context of the Government’s commitment in its Programme for Government to reform the current law on employees’ right to engage in collective bargaining (the Industrial Relations (Amendment) Act 2001), so as to ensure compliance by the State with recent judgments of the European Court of Human Rights; and
— efforts to tackle unemployment and stabilise the employment rate through the twin strategies of Pathways to Work and the annual Action Plan for Jobs, which engages every Government Department in delivering on employment supporting actions and monitors their delivery on a quarterly basis; and notes that the private sector has added an additional two thousand jobs per month since the launch of the first Action Plan for Jobs in February 2012”
- (Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine)

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