Reply to Trade Union Left Forum News Item of September 27th, 2013

The state commemoration on Saturday, August 31st, 2013, was the first official acknowledgement of the role of organised labour in the creation and development of the Irish state. It was secured in spite of intense opposition from business interests and it was important from our point of view both for its symbolic value and as part of the campaign to have legislation on collective bargaining passed during the life of the current Government.

This is the first time such a commitment has been secured in a Programme for Government, due to the Labour Party’s participation in that Government. This is not a statement of support for the Labour Party, simply a statement of fact.

The 1913 Committee has been involved in a wide range of initiatives to celebrate and commemorate the Dublin Lockout. It has done so in a spirit of co-operation and on the basis of finding issues of common ground with a wide range of civic society bodies and interested individuals.

While there are relevant points made in the Trade Union Left Forum blog it also contains statements that are inaccurate and damaging to its own credibility, as well as the objectives of the wider movement.

For instance:
1. It attacks the use of G4S Security in terms I will not repeat as they are potentially defamatory. Suffice to say that G4S Security received the contract to steward the event because it recognises unions, engages in collective bargaining in Ireland, and has a global union agreement. The people attacked in your blog are fellow workers and trade unionists.
2. The blog states that ‘400,000 Dubliners do not bring themselves to the point of starvation for trade union recognition or for any pay claim or terms and conditions of employments. They go to such extremes for a political vision of society – socialism’. The total population of Dublin in 1913 was only 300,000 and only one out of ten ‘Larkinite’ candidates was elected to the City Council during the Lockout. Wishful thinking is no substitute for serious historical analysis.

How the Trade Union Left Forum decides to commemorate Bloody Sunday and other events connected with the Lockout is a matter for itself, but it owes it to fellow trade unionists to base its critique on facts if it wishes to be taken seriously.

Padraig Yeates
On Behalf of the 1913 Committee