Chapter

Labour and Society, 1780–1945

John Lynch

in Ulster Since 1600

Published in print November 2012 | ISBN: 9780199583119
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191744822 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199583119.003.0013
Labour and Society, 1780–1945

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  • Early Modern History (1500 to 1700)

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In industrializing Ulster, as elsewhere, work relationships were embedded in power relationships linking different social classes. These relations of production gave rise to varying degrees of tension between the owners of capital and labour, centring on wage payments, conditions of work, health and safety. There were also divisions within the emerging working classes, the major cleavage being between skilled and unskilled workers. Communal, sectarian and later national differences complicated issues of working-class solidarity, trade union organisation and the emergence of a labour movement. Despite these cross-cutting loyalties, workers in Belfast developed a significant trade union membership. The Dockers’ strike of 1907 was a high point in cooperation between workers from different politico-religious backgrounds, while the large-scale expulsion of mainly catholic workers from their workplaces in Belfast in 1920 indicated just how fragile any such accommodations might be.

Keywords: work; workers; social class; trade union; labour; dockers; health; safety; working class; strike

Chapter.  8600 words. 

Subjects: Early Modern History (1500 to 1700)

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