The 1913 Dublin Lockout
The Dublin lockout of 1913 was a defining moment in the fight by Irish workers for the right to organize and unionize. The dispute between workers and employers started on the 26th of August, 1913 and lasted until January 18th, 1914. The lockout today is viewed as one of the most significant and severe disputes in Irish labor history. Some of the factors that lead to the Dublin lockout were the worker’s right to unionize and the extremely poor living conditions in slums, in which where over one third of Dublin’s population made their homes. During this lockout many important figures emerged on both sides of the fighting. Irish workers looked to people like James Connolly as well as James Larkin as leaders of the struggling working class. The Dublin lockout did not succeed in producing better pay and working conditions for Irish workers but it did and perhaps more importantly mobilize the Irish work force for the first time.
One of the central issues that triggered the Dublin lockout was the pressing living conditions of the poor that resided in the slums of Dublin. In the early 1900’s, Dublin had the worst housing conditions of any city in the United Kingdom. By 1911, over 26,000 families lived in 5,000 tenements. Over 20,000 lived in one room and another 5,000 had only two rooms. Of the 5,000 tenements, over 1,500 were deemed as being unfit for human habitation. The living conditions in Dublin were only made worse with the extremely high rate of disease. Because of the cramped living spaces, diseases were easily transferred causing Ireland to have one of the highest infant mortality rates in any European country. The desperate living conditions in Dublin also caused many social problems such as alcoholism, crime and prostitution. Many of the Irish working class resided in the slums and without proper representation they often turned to fighting each other on a daily basis for work.
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