Cumann Seandalaiochta agus Staire Phort Lairge

Friday, November 22, 2019

November Lecture: Red Hand on the Suir by Francis Devine

Our next lecture will be

Red hand on the Suir – 
the Irish Transport and General Workers Union 
in Waterford in the early 20th century

 by Francis Devine, retired ITGWU/SIPTU official, historian, writer, singer.

Date: Friday 29th November 2019 

Venue: St. Patricks Gateway Centre, Patrick Street, Waterford.

Time: 8pm.

Admission 5 Euro,   members no charge

Waterford was a founding branch of the Irish Transport & General Workers' Union in 1909 but its early years were turbulent.
Re-established after 1918, the ITGWU presence was badly affected by the historic Farm Labourers' Dispute of 1923 – a dispute with national consequences and central to the Free State's attack on labour. 
Defeat for the ITGWU arguably had repercussions for the union in West Waterford which have lasted until the present day. In 1923, the ITGWU spent a huge amount – over £40,000 – in Strike Pay within county Waterford in an attempt to prevent wage cuts for their farm labourer members. 
However, by 1930, membership had fallen from over 4,700 in 1923 to a mere 300 with many branches wiped out. 
Thomas Dunne was the Waterford ITGWU Branch Secretary throughout the period, a lengthy tenure that did not conclude until the 1940s. The ITGWU's declining fortunes reflected those of organised labour nationally but the union survived and was to revive after 1945 to again become a significant force within the city.

Francis Devine is a retired ITGWU/SIPTU official, a historian, an author and an editor. He wrote Organising History: A Centenary of SIPTU, 1909-2009 (Gill & Macmillan, Dublin, 2009) and has also written histories of the Medical Laboratory Scientists' Association and the Communications Workers' Union. He co-edited two volumes of Left Lives in Twentieth Century Ireland with Jack McGinley, and a collection of essays on William Walker's Centenary with Patrick Smylie. He is a former editor of Saothar, the Journal of the Irish Labour History Society. 
He is a member of the Expert Advisory Group on Commemorations which was established by the Taoiseach in 2011 to advise the Government on historical matters relating to the Decade of Centenaries. Francis is an accomplished singer, he released the CD My Father Told Me in 2014, and has a second CD An Ownerless Corner of Earth due for release in February 2020.

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