ITGWUIrish Transport and General Workers Union
ITGWUIndustrial Transport and General Workers Union
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By founding the ITGWU Larkin not only sought to ameliorate workers' wages and working conditions, but he also attempted to make the union an instrument for the material advancement of the workers and a vehicle for their social and cultural improvement.
Larkin's disruptive nature is best exemplified by his attacks on the ITGWU and its executive committee in his unsuccessful attempt to regain total control of the union following his return to Ireland in 1923.
His admission to the parliamentary party was more than his long time adversary and general secretary of the ITGWU, William O'Brien, could stomach.
The Labour Party split was followed in 1945 by a schism in the Irish Trade Union Congress (ITUC), when the ITGWU led fifteen Irish unions into the breakaway Congress of Irish Unions (CIU), in protest at alleged domination of the ITUC by British-based unions.
When he warned of communist infiltration in Waterford's Municipal Theatre in 1958, the ITGWU branch secretary seconded the vote of thanks.
Intelligent, tough, shrewd and a gifted organiser, he was a founder of the ITGWU and later, following Larkin's departure to the US in 1914, its leading figure and general secretary for many years: his position within the ITGWU provided his power base throughout his career.
Adrian Grant takes a wider, longer and more integrated view, locating the emergence of socialist republicanism as a political force (or 'mass movement') in 1909, with Larkin and the ITGWU credited as its midwives; Connolly and the earlier ISRP (which collapsed in 1904) are discussed but seen as important in terms of ideas rather than for organisational reasons.
And there are bleak periods such as the era of fratricide that shook the movement when Larkin, expelled from the ITGWU, established the rival Workers' Union of Ireland in 1924, while the Cominterm engaged in parallel intrigues with the Irish Republican Army.
The labour movement remained craft-dominated and marginal until the establishment of the ITGWU by James Larkin in 1909.
At once, it championed socialism and republicanism, while supporting Home Rule as a temporary solution, and portraying the ITGWU as a Catholic union.
On Friday, August 15, Murphy walked into the delivery room of the Irish Independent, which he owned, and gave the workers an ultimatum: they had to choose between their jobs and the ITGWU. Forty men and twenty boys left immediately.
"The only resource left to the worker," he wrote, "is to federate his Union--to leave no isolated unon to be drowned singly, but to draw them all together and ever closer into a National, and ultimately International, Federation of Workers." This, he said, was what the ITGWU was trying to do: "It assists in organizing other unions, keeps in touch with them, and helps them in their industrial struggles.