1907 Belfast dock strike time-line

Published in 1913, 20th Century Social Perspectives, 20th-century / Contemporary History, Features, Issue 4 (July-August 2013), Volume 21

20 January: Larkin arrives from Liverpool.
End April: Police reports suggest that Larkin has recruited 2,978 dockers.
26 April: Sam Kelly dismisses union men on his coal quay. All strike.
6 May: Dockers walk out at the Belfast Steamship Co. (BSC), and when they seek to return on Larkin’s advice they are locked out.
8 May: First arrival of scab labour organised by the Shipping Federation.
9 May: Dockers storm Kelly’s quay and he capitulates, also granting pay rises. They also storm the BSC quay and persuade scabs to defect.
16 May: Military introduced on the quays.
17 May: Short-lived strike by women at Gallaher’s tobacco factory (Gallaher was also the chairman of the BSC).
11 June: Coal-heavers put in a general claim; on 17 June the employers concede.
20 June: General claim made to all the cross-channel shipping companies.
25 June: Smaller companies are willing to concede but the BSC and the railway companies remain obdurate.
28 June: General claim made by the carters.
2 July: Larkin offers to give up strike leadership in favour of Alex Boyd.
3 July: Peace negotiations break down and Larkin’s leadership is reaffirmed.
4 July: All carters strike.
20 July: Representatives of the General Federation of Trades Unions (GFTU) arrive, intent on ending the disputes.
25 July: GFTU representatives negotiate a settlement of the coal dispute without the participation of the Belfast leaders. It later transpires that ‘nothing is written down’.
26 July: Mass march organised by the Trades Council, involving possibly 100,000, through all working-class districts.
27 July: RIC mutiny as more than half the force attend a banned meeting in Musgrave Street barracks and throw open the gates to civilian strikers.
28 July: 2,550 extra troops rushed to Belfast.
1 August: Leaders of the police mutiny dismissed and 203 suspects transferred out of Belfast.
4 August: GFTU leaders agree a settlement of the carters’ dispute but the men reject it.
8 August: Military used in force on the streets to prevent picketing.
10/11 August: Serious riots on the Falls, with two innocent victims shot dead by the military.
15 August: Carters’ dispute settled in negotiations from which Larkin was again excluded.
September: Cross-channel dockers are left isolated and have to plead for return on any terms.
19 November: Newry dockers black a collier diverted from Belfast. The action develops into a fully fledged strike led by James Fearon.


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