The foundation of the ITGWU by Jim Larkin in 1909 will be marked by SIPTU through a series of events during the coming year. As well as marking the establishment of the union, there will be a number of key commemorate events.

The union’s General Officers and the National Executive Council outlined the schedule of events at the launching of the Centenary Celebrations in Liberty Hall, with President Mary McAleese in attendance, on Sunday last.

SIPTU’s Waterford Branch Organiser Marie Butler said the celebrations will recognise that the world of work in 1909 was a very different place, and will acknowledge the significant achievements gained by workers as they struggled to improve their working conditions and living standards over the last one hundred years.

She said each generation of workers had their own struggle and while some opinion formers would like to think trade unions are unnecessary in 2009, “lets not forget that in 2005 this generation of workers ‘on their watch’ had to take to the streets in their hundreds of thousands to defend themselves against gross exploitation and the race to the bottom”.

Acknowledging the difficult economic circumstances currently, she said trade unions had to be vigilant that workers rights did not become the casualty and the only way to defend their rights, working conditions and living standards was if all workers followed in the footsteps set out by Larkin and Connolly one hundred years ago and joined a trade union.

Extending the congratulations of the Waterford Branch Committee, Ms Butler urged the union’s membership to recall their experiences and those of their parents and grandparents as the collective efforts of a generation in the battle for workers rights were worth remembering and celebrating.