The Capitalist Press this week announced with great exultation the settlement of the Seamen's Strike on the City of Dublin Steam Packet Co. None have however given the facts of the case, and as these facts are worth repeating we propose to supply the deficiency caused by that omission.
The seamen and firemen employed on the boats of the above Company came out on strike because they were asked to sail the boats while the dock labourers were on strike, and in spite of the fact that these boats had been loaded by scabs or clerks acting as scabs. The Seamen's and Firemen's Union ordered them to scab, and they refused to scab. That was all. There was no question of money, or of a demand for an increase of wages involved in the matter. It was simply a strike upon a point of honour.
Now according to the daily press these same men are returning to work because the Company has promised them an increase of five shillings in their weekly wages. They have accepted this as a satisfactory settlement upon the advice of their officials - and return to work accordingly.
Do you understand that? Do you understand how the payment of five shillings per week can buy men to do a thing that they had declared was a dishonourable, unclean thing to do? They did not come out for an increase, they came out upon a point of honour. But for the payment of five shillings per week per man they have sold their honour, and betrayed their comrades in the hour of victory. In the hour of victory, for negotiations for an all-round satisfactory settlement were in progress when the seamen and firemen, prompted by their English officials, sold the pass upon their Irish brethren.
It is not hard to understand that. We see it every day. But it is hard to write temperately about it. So we will stop writing - and go on thinking.
Republished in James Connolly: Lost Writings, (ed. Aindrias Ó Cathasaigh), Pluto Press 1997.