Dublin transit workers on strike, 1913 and 2013

As the centennial of the 1913 Dublin strike and lockout nears at the end of August, the capital city is coping with a contemporary work stoppage by Dublin Bus employees.

Irish News Review quickly noted that history repeats itself:

In the summer of 1913, James Larkin [photo below] called a general strike of the employees of the Dublin Tramway Company. It escalated to this point after William Martin Murphy owner of The Irish Independent, The Evening Herald, and of course the trams, banned workers from joining or being a member of Larkin’s union, the Irish Transport and General Workers Union. History would remember Larkin’s decision to go on strike as an impressive and tactical bit of timing on his part, as it coincided with the opening day of the Dublin Horse Show; one of the busiest days for Dublin’s public transport. This led to an agreement between the majority of large business owners in Dublin locking out their workforce, causing riots, civil unrest, and very poor conditions, and lasted nearly six months.

One hundred years later, three days before the Dublin Horse Show opens, the management of Dublin Bus introduce new cost cutting measures, which – after long debates with representatives from the unions representing the drivers, the inspectors, the cleaners, hospitality staff, the mechanics, and the clerical staff – were not agreed upon by the majority of their workforce.

Here’s a detailed chronology and background of Dublin’s 1913’s labor unrest, including the city’s deplorable tenement conditions, from University College Cork.


Contemporary Dublin Bus workers are to vote over the coming week on proposals to settle their dispute, The Irish Times reports.

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, my grandfather, his brother-in-law and several cousins and friends — all from Kerry — worked as streetcar motormen and conductors in Pittsburgh. They would have participated in numerous strikes against Pittsburgh Railways Co. in the 1910s and 1920s.