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Home arrow Memories arrow Labour history on Irish waterways - snippets - 2 - 1922
Labour history on Irish waterways - snippets - 2 - 1922 PDF Print E-mail
29 October 2010


The Grand Canal Company during the 1920’s was made up of a mixture of staff types from grades of boatman to store men to bank-rangers and lock-keepers (59 from records, for Main, Barrow and branch lines!!) Each of these groupings would at times campaign to improve their pay and conditions.
In a letter to their union in June 1922, the four Ringsend Dock men laid out a case in their attempt to get two weeks annual leave. The four men worked eight hour shifts, seven days per week without holidays and received an issue of ‘oil coat and leggings’ only once.
A comparison with the Custom House Dock men was made in an attempt to prove the hardship. The Custom men worked shorter shifts and only six days a week with one week annual leave. Clothing issue for the seven men was one uniform per year, two suits of dungarees per year and one suit of oil clothes every two years.
The union advised the Ringsend men not to pursue the matter at this point in time quoting the company’s case for hardship at the recently suspended Canal Commission. Eighteen months later when the company notified the men of a wage reduction of six shillings per week, the union pleaded the men’s case in a letter to Mr. Phillips (general manager G.C.C.) and I quote
‘We regard these men as being in a different category to that of your ordinary employees, their work being chiefly connected with the quays, and their duties to some extent comparable to those of the Spencer Dock and Custom House Dock gate-men, where the working conditions are much more favourable than those obtaining for your dockmen. Consequently, we think it very desirable that you should arrange to meet our representatives in conference at an early day in order to go fully into the whole matter, on the understanding that any special arrangement come to for these dockmen would not prejudice your position in regard to the other employees of the company.
The case for these men did not progress at that time.
Bibliography: From the Irish Transport and General Workers' Union (canal section) files, lodged at the Labour History museum and archive, Beggars Bush, Dublin 4
Joe Treacy


Last Updated ( 02 November 2013 )
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