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James Connolly, Jim Larkin &the 1907 Belfast Dockers Strike
Tue 21 March 2017, 19:00 – 20:30 GMT
Speaker: Tommy Campbell,
Unite Regional Officer, Aberdeen
The Edwardian period saw Belfast at the crest of a long wave of industrial and geographical expansion. Unskilled workers were poorly paid relative to their UK counterparts, and employers were able to draw on huge numbers of unskilled rural workers - the gap in wages and living standards between the two groups was, ‘a yawning abyss, unequalled anywhere else in the United Kingdom.’
The first annual conference of the British Labour Party was held in Belfast in early 1907. Labour organiser and socialist agitator James Larkin attended, intent on the organisation of Belfast's 3100 dockers, 2000 of who were casual ‘spellsmen’ hired at low rates on a daily basis. The 1907 strike in Belfast united Protestant and Catholic workers.
James Connolly and Larkin were instrumental in the setting up of the Irish Labour Party in 1912, in anticipation of a Home Rule parliament. Connolly also had the dubious privilege of being denounced from both Catholic and Protestant pulpits for his activities!