Extracts from the Annual Reports

Extracts from ITUC Conference on June 12th, 13th, 14th, 1905, at the Town Hall, Wexford

On the Trades Dispute Bill and Irish Party

Mr Hugh McManus (Belfast) moved: That this Congress, while fully recognising the splendid practical services rendered by the Irish Members of Parliament in regard to the Trades Disputes Bill, desires to emphasise previous declarations that no measure can be accepted as satisfactory which does not restore the full rights previously enjoyed by trade unions under the Acts of 1871 and 1876, legalising peaceful picketing and persuasion; clearly defining the law of conspiracy and combination in respect to trades disputes, alike applicable in all cases to employers and workers; and also securing the equitable protection of trade union funds. And we desire to place on record our protest, that the measure which passed its second reading in the present Parliament by such a substantial majority has been strangled in its committee stage at the instance of supporters of the Government.

He said, when the Bill was first before the House of Commons Sir Edward Carson said it was impossible that it should ever become law, but it had since passed through the Commons by a large majority, to suffer strangulation by its enemies in the Committee stage. He referred to a recent case in the North of Ireland in which on the evidence of bogus tradesmen, an effort was made to mulct trades unionists in heavy law costs.

Councillor James McCarron (Derry), who seconded the resolution, said that they should make every effort, each in his own constituency, to get the support of their Parliamentary representatives.

Mr. Walter Hudson (Dublin), supported the resolution. He said they should exercise their power as workers in the ballot boxes.

Mr. Mitchell (Belfast), said that only one of the members of the Irish Party, from whom they expected support, had voted for the Bill in Committee; two were afraid to vote, and two were absent. He advocated the sending of an independent party of their own to Parliament to look after their interests.

Mr. John Murphy (Belfast), in supporting the resolution, said that some of the Members of Parliament did not deserve any praise. Some of them opposed in Committee and on the second reading. Every Nationalist member voted for it, and why should they not thank the Liberals. If the resolution thanked the Irish Parliamentary Party it would be more correct.

Councillor P. T. Daly (Dublin), supported the resolution, and said he did not quite follow the last speaker. He thought they should confine themselves within the four seas of Ireland. The Irish Parliamentary Party deserved a meed of praise in the matter, but he was not in favour of mentioning them specially in a resolution, as there was at least one other member outside that Party who voted for the measure.
The resolution was also supported by Messrs Dineen (Limerick), Canty and Lyons (Dublin), and unanimously adopted.
Click here to launch page 15 the 1905 Annual Report (PDF)

On the Shop Hours’ Act, 1904

Mr. E. W. Stewart (Shop Assistants) moved: Whereas this Congress has upon several occasions directed attention to the evil of long hours of employment in shops ; and whereas this Congress has upon several occasions unanimously endorsed the measure introduced to Parliament by Sir Charles Dilke as the best method of removing the evil; and whereas this Congress, by resolution, welcomed the statement in the King’s speech opening the Parliamentary Session of 1904, that legislation dealing with the subject would be introduced—Therefore, it is hereby resolved that this Congress regards the measure known as the Shop Hours’ Act, 1904, as too cumbersome in procedure to be satisfactory in operation, and lacking the essential features of being uniform and compulsory; and we request the Government to grant facilities for a further extension of the principles which this Act establishes, but fails to carry out.”

Mr Henry Rochford (Hairdressers’ Assistants), seconded the resolution.

Mr M J O’Lehane (Irish Drapers’ Assistants), said the Act was practically worthless in its present form. The Urban Councils throughout the country, composed as they were mainly of shopkeepers, would not put the Act into force, and a compulsory measure was necessary.

Messrs Kavanagh, Canty and Councillor M’Cormack (Belfast), having spoken, the motion was adopted.

NOTE: When legislation failed to meet expectations the ITUC sought to enlist the support of members and consumers
Click here to launch page 16 the 1905 Annual Report (PDF) 

On hours of work in shops

Mr J O’Lehane (Irish Drapers’ Assistants) moved: That this Congress is of opinion that the hours worked in shops, particularly in the drapery trade, are excessive and most injurious to the health of the assistants; and pending adequate legislation on the matter, we call on the public, more especially the workers, to co-operate in the efforts which are at .present being made towards shortening the working hours.

He said he spoke on behalf of 3,000 assistants in the drapery trade who attributed this grievance to unnecessarily late shoppings. Delegates, he said, might urge upon their constituents to transact this kind of business as early as possible.
Click here to launch page 16 the 1905 Annual Report (PDF) 

On outworking in the tailoring trade

Councillor McCarron (Tailors) moved:—
That this Congress urges upon the Parliamentary Committee the necessity of having the Factory and Workshop Act so amended as to make it imperative for all employers in the tailoring trade to provide sufficient and suitable workshops for all those in their employment, as, in our opinion, home working is the chief cause of the sweating system. Further, so long as employers are allowed to send their work to people’s homes, complete and efficient workshop inspection is impossible without an enormous and absurd increase in the number of inspectors. It is also our opinion that where bedrooms or living rooms are used as workshops they become a danger to the public health, and tend to demoralise those engaged therein.”

He urged that inquiries should be made when purchasing clothes if same were made at a sweater’s.

Mr Lynch, PLG – (Cork), seconded, and said he knew there were so-called trades union houses in Cork where they did not know but the suit they bought there was made by a sweater.

The resolution was adopted.
Click here to launch page 17 the 1905 Annual Report (PDF) 

On Irish Public Boards and the Fair Wages Resolution

Mr McManus (Belfast), moved, Mr E L Richardson seconded and it was resolved:

(a) That, notwithstanding reiterated complaints, the Irish Trades Congress learns with regret that many county councils and other public bodies in Ireland elected by popular suffrage still neglect to adopt and enforce the Fair Wages Resolution, to prevent sweating and sub-letting in public contracts; and we hereby call upon all public boards to have the Fair Wages Resolution inserted in all tenders for work paid for by the ratepayers, thereby prohibiting unfair contractors imposing upon the local rates, preventing excessive boy labour, scamped work, and dishonest competition, that employers paying less than the minimum rate of wages, or not conforming to the working conditions or hours of labour accepted as fair’ by the trade union in connection with the class of work contracted for, cannot be recognised as fulfilling the provisions of the Fair Wages Resolution.

(b) That this Congress views with much satisfaction the action of the County Council’s General Council in unanimously recommending the adoption of the Fair Wages Resolution by all Local Government bodies in Ireland, whereby contractors for public works are required to conform to fair conditions of labour, employ regular tradesmen for tradesmen’s work, and prohibit sub-letting; and this Congress, in the interests alike of the ratepayers, fair employers, and honest workmanship, strongly urges upon Borough, bounty and District Councils and Boards of Guardians the necessity of giving practical effect to the General Council’s recommendations.
An amendment appeared on the agenda paper in the name of Mr M Ryan, DC, representing the Land and Labour Association, urging local authorities to adopt the system of direct labour for making and repairing the public roads of the county; but the legal status of this delegate being questioned, and he being absent, the amendment was dropped.

Click here to launch page 21 the 1905 Annual Report (PDF) 

On free libraries

Mr T W Lyster (National Library) said he wished the Congress to express their sense of the importance of giving to the poor Irish boy and girl a chance of reading good books throughout the country in Ireland. They wanted them to serve as intellectual ornaments in Ireland and provide something good for the young people to read. Rural life was very dull at present, and when the young people got anything to read it was often in the shape of books and pamphlets that were very unfit to read.

Mr H Dixon also addressed the Congress at some length. He pointed out that in Wexford they had absolutely nothing in the shape of public recreation or amusement of any kind for the young people—the boys and girls who left school. If a requisition were signed by the ratepayers or people of the town as a whole the Corporation or Urban Council would have to levy the rate of 1d in the £ for the purpose of providing a free library or reading room, whether they liked it or not. Their attention should be given to the education of boys who left school—the boys from 15 to 20 years, which meant the making or unmaking of a good Irishman.

They might by acting otherwise keep them off the street corners, but that was all. Carlyle had referred to the library as the poor man’s university, and it was the university of more than the poor man. By educating their youth they would help on the industrial movement also (applause). Mr Geo Leahy then moved, and Mr John Murphy, PLG, seconded the following resolution:—

That this Congress, mindful of the educational and moral advantages derivable by the people from properly equipped libraries and news-rooms, urges upon the District Councils of the country the desirability of adopting the Libraries Acts, and of providing the inhabitants of their respective districts with such intellectual facilities in this respect as the Acts provide for; that we call upon the workers to press this matter on the attention of their representatives upon all Urban and Rural Councils, and to support only those who undertake to promote the erection of libraries and reading-rooms in the towns and villages throughout Ireland.”

Messrs John Simmons and H Rochford supported the resolution, which was adopted unanimously.
Click here to launch page 43 the 1905 Annual Report (PDF) 

On the Dublin Bricklayers Lockout

Mr Carroll, Chairman of the Bricklayers’ Association, Dublin, got liberty to move a resolution tendering to the Dublin Brick and Stonelayers’ Union an earnest expression of their moral and financial support in the present unfortunate lock-out in the building trade in Dublin. He said the main object of the Dublin builders was to wipe out the bricklayers altogether, and they thought the present an opportune time on account of the great depression in the building trade.

Mr Doyle, PLG, Dublin, seconded the resolution, and said that notwithstanding the fact that the lock-out had lasted 104 days the Association had got financial support from many societies in Dublin. While one member of the trade was left there would be no such thing as working with imported free labour.

Mr George Leahy, in supporting the resolution, suggested the appointment of a deputation to wait on the Master Builders for the purpose if possible of bringing about a settlement.

Mr Richardson said if the Congress sent a deputation without giving them instructions to settle the dispute they would be politely shown the door by the Masters.

Messrs Simmons, Canty and Farren supported the motion, which was adopted.

On the motion of Mr John Murphy, PLG (Belfast}, seconded by Councillor Daly (Dublin), it was a deputation from the Parliamentary Committee should seek an interview with the employers with a view to a settlement.

Click here to launch page 44 the 1905 Annual Report (PDF)