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14 June 2007 Edition

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SIPTU event marks centenary of Dockers' strike

BY CAOILFHIONN Ní DHONNNABHÁIN

‘Larkin and 1907’, an event organised by SIPTU to mark the centenary of the Belfast Dockers' Strike took place in Dublin City Hall on Monday evening.  The 1907 strike, which marked the beginnings of James Larkin’s union agitation in Ireland, was one of the seminal events in Irish trade union history.  A number of events have already taken place to mark the centenary, most of these taking place in Belfast.  
Proceedings at City Hall were chaired by SIPTU’s National Campaign Organiser Anne Speed and was opened by the Lord Mayor of Dublin Vincent Jackson.  There then followed a performance  of a short play entitled Strike by Vincent Higgins based on Mixed Marriage, a play written by St John Ervine in 1911 with the strike as it’s backdrop.   The work explored the issues of 1907 and their contemporary relevance.
The main address was given by SIPTU General President Jack O’Connor.  Importantly O’Connor’s speech focused on how we can honour the legacy of the 1907 strike through what we do today – by fighting for the rights of workers including specifically the most vulnerable workers.  In particular the plight of agency workers in Ireland needed to be addressed.  
O’Connor pointed out that the outgoing government was one of only three among the entire twenty-seven EU member States to refuse to legislate for equality of treatment for agency workers.  He warned that unless this issue was addressed urgently, it would seriously undermine the pay and conditions of all workers.  The General President of SIPTU challenged elected representatives to make addressing this issue an immediate priority.     
ICTU’s Assistant General Secretary Peter Bunting and Unison Regional Secretary and ICTU Vice President Patricia McKeown were both in attendance on Monday evening. Sinn Féin spokesperson on Workers Rights’ Arthur Morgan TD was also there and a number of Sinn Féin’s Dublin City Councillors took time out from a meeting of the City Council to attend part of the event.
The story of the 1907 Belfast Dockers' and Carters ‘Strike and James Larkin’s involvement in it can be read in City in Revolt by John Gray re-published by SIPTU to mark the centenary of the strike.

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