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Trade Unionists...?

category dublin | worker & community struggles and protests | opinion/analysis author Monday January 08, 2007 17:53author by Hugh Murphy - Sacked by my union ex Belfast Docker Report this post to the editors

Whats the difference between union and employer

Arthur Rafferty and other dockers are dying of Asbestosis

Would all Trade Unionists especially those in Atgwu and Siptu reflect for a moment on the plight of Arthur Rafferty and the other Belfast Dockers who've contracted Asbestos because of their union.

Arthur and the others can lay the blame for their premature deaths at the door of corrupt union officials. They knew of the dangers of this deadly substance but ignored it to make more profit for the employers.

I can't find words vile enough to describe these contemptuous purveyors of death, who, while pretending to be good steadfast advocates of trade unionism hypocritically allowed and encouraged non-union men to be employed. While ensuring that members of ITGWU were always paid up members, {they ensured this by heavy fines.} Thus Arthur and the others condemned to death by the collaboration of their union, were at the time, fully paid up members of ITGWU..

Seeing that no-one from SIPTU or ICTU will meet Arthur, in a gesture of desperation he's asked to meet Mick O'Reilly of Atgwu. Maybe the leader of a union he never belonged to will be able to make the Trade Union Movement treat himself and the other dying Dockers with respect.

A while back David Begg of ICTU was complaining about the rights of workers in China. I wrote to him {again} and reminded him of the Belfast Dockers, and stated, Belfast is a lot closer than China.

To myself and others, who've been deprived of our livelihoods by ITGWU for wanting fair play for workers, ICTU was always a sick joke.
But we never though they'd stoop so low as to refuse to meet dying men who're being deprived of their lives - or to champion their rights.

Peter Mcloone, David Begg and all the other so-called trade unionists in ICTU are a disgrace to Larkin and Connolly's memory.
There's no difference between today's in the Partnership here in the South, and the collaboration which ITGWU entered into with the employers in the North.


Whatever happened to "An injury to one is the concern of all, etc, and One Big Union...? Ooops, sorry, now it's called One Big Employers Union - and uses Belfast as its template.

I am asking Trade Unionists to comment on this corruption and SIPTU and ICTU'S treatment of dying men.

author by Jonahpublication date Mon Jan 08, 2007 19:06author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I'm no fan of SIPTU, and Hugh's outrage is clear from his post, but having read it a couple of times it is no clearer to me what he is talking about.

Where was this asbestos? How was it detected and by whom? How many workers are affected? Overe what period of time? When did the trade union officials become aware of it's existence? What, if anything, did they do? What evidence is there of a cover-up by union officials of the existence of asbestos in collaboration with employers? If the officials did nothing, was a complaint lodged with the unions, and if so by who and when? What resaponse did the union give?

I'm not attacking anyone and I'm no friend of SIPTU. I'm a former member of SIPTU who left the union because of it's appalling political positions on Partnership., the EU Constitution and signing no-strike deals, as well as an extremely poor service provider to members. I'm open-minded on the allegations being made, but they are very serious and require more information to back them up.

author by Hugh Murphy - Sacked by my union ex Belfast Dockerpublication date Mon Jan 08, 2007 23:06author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Dear jonah

If you read indymedia Siptu Atgwu unity you'll find all the proof you need of Trade Union corruption.

You'll also find postings from Arthur Rafferty, one of the dockers dying from asbestosis.

You'll also find posting from myself accurately portraying the corruption of ITGWU and the cover up by Siptu.

I have told De Rossa, ICTU and Jack O'Connor {twice to his face} that they're corrupt and are covering up corruption.

Yes I agree these are serious charges, so why won't the trade union movement answer me or sue me. After all De Rossa took Eamon Dunphy to court to protect his good name - why not me?

I'm delighted you asked your questions, Jonah, if, after reading the indymedia site mentioned, you wonder why nothing is being done against this corrupt Trade Union, try and ask Siptu or ICTU.

author by Michael from Siptu - Siptu but not for longpublication date Wed Jan 24, 2007 14:46author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I've been following the postings from ex Belfast Dockers Hugh Murphy and Arthur Rafferty, who, if he is to be believed is dying of Asbestosis.

My reason for questioning Arthur, is frankly that I don't believe my union would behave in such a manner. My union protects the rights of workers, it doesn't send them to an early death!

I will investigate and if what's been said is true, I shall leave Siptu.

But, on the other hand, is a few Belfast Dockers lives worth losing the partnership which we've fought hard to obtain?

Because of Ictu's silence I think this is the path they're treading, but for me it won't be enough. I support Parthership and if I have to leave Siptu because of my principles I will, but I'll do it quietly. Too much hard work has been done by good people, including Jack O'Connor for it all to be wasted over something which was done over 30 years ago.

Cover-ups never work, the North's recent exposure is proof of that.

If what is alleged is true then Ictu and Siptu and should own up to it and resolve it. Why are they covering up something for which they aren't responsible for?

Atgwu has the right idea form a party of the left without right wing interference.

author by eyes open - we don't need to be convincedpublication date Wed Jan 24, 2007 16:35author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Siptu Michael makes some good points, Jack O'Connor should not be pilloried for the actions of a few so called trade unionists in Belfast.

Instead of leaving the union if these things are true, he should be fighting to protect the good name and good work of Jack O'Connor, David Beggs and all the others who've brougt the trade union movement from the dark ages to actually being consulted about what affects our members.

That Belfast dockers are dying of asbestos poisioning is terriable but it has nothing to do with us. Stand your ground Michael and speak out for the true Trade Unionists.

author by Hugh Murphy - Sacked by my union ex Belfast Dockerpublication date Wed Jan 24, 2007 21:18author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Seeing that Jonah hasn't commented since his silly comments, I will take it that he's read the ALL the postings on indymedia Siptu Atgwu.

He states that he's no fan of Siptu because he couldn't agree with the direction they'd took.

After reading these postings, if he's only half a trade unionist he'll hate them.

As for the above two postings in favour of Jack O'Connor and Ictu. This so called defence of them show just how far from the ideas and teaching of Larkin and Connolly the Labour Movement has... not so much strayed, but being bought over by the employers.

Ictu, Rabitte, De Rossa and O'Connor should, the next time, get someone with a bit of sense to defend them.

But... what defence can be made for selling out the working class.

author by cowardly tom - sacked by itgwupublication date Sat Jan 27, 2007 16:31author address author phone Report this post to the editors

the belfast dockers always new t he ictu was shower f wasters. they nevr done anyfing for anbody only themselvves but to close dwn a uneployed center for uneployed peope in mayo showes just how dveois and pre goverment they are.
how can workres ex;pect far ;play from enployers when the trade union moevment sellls us out
Artur rafferttty is caes in point WHY WILL they said nothing about trade union corruption.
Here in Belfast we knows thy all out for thenselves they pretemd to be on workres side to get powder and then sello ut to emplyers have theys no consceinses

author by Eyes wide open - Trade Union movementpublication date Tue Jan 30, 2007 12:32author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I believe there's an another reason for the exposing of the supposed corruption of Siptu and Ictu.

If Siptu really is covering up the corruption of ITGWU it is a very short-sighted way of thinking.

Cover ups never work.

But why is this only coming out now? Is it the start of an attack on the Trade Union Movement over partnership by Trade Union disadents?

The Trade Union movement has done the right think WITH partnership. If corruption existed in the past condemn it. Your silence is agreement.

Why cover up what we're not responscible for?

I am really being affected by this.

To think that my union, [knowingly] sent union members, or even non union men to work at asbestos to make profit for the employers is disgusting. I, for one don't want to be partners with any employer who'd do such a thing. Nor do I want to be partners with employers relations who, thirity years ago, sent asbestos laden ships from Dublin to Belfast . AFTER they'd been informed by the government of the dangers of working with it.

The TRADE UNION MOVEMENT should lead the way and demand an inquiry and find out who's guilty. ONLY in doing this will they clear their name and not be seen as anti working class.


author by Michael - Siptupublication date Tue Jan 30, 2007 14:04author address author phone Report this post to the editors

For eyes wide open to be an apologist for Siptu and Ictu is disgusting. If he's feeling as bad as he says then he'll confront the union's at fault and not white-wash their cover up actions.

Have the Irish workers since Larkin and Connolly become stupid?

Can the Irish workers not see when they're being sold out? Why did these great men devote their lives to furthering the lot of the working class - for the working class to accept betrayal from the so-called descends of Larkin and Connolly in the Trade Union Movement?

It's a class thing. The corrupters and betrayers in Siptu and Ictu while paying lip service to workers are selling out so they can be treated as equals by the employers and government, and to become upper class.

Eyes Wide Open may claim to be upset by workers dying in Belfast because of his union's actions, but he'll do nothing about it.

It was PARTNERSHIP between ITGWI and the Belfast employers which sentenced these dockers to death in the first place.

In partnership, the worker will always be the SLAVE, and like in Belfast will die because of PARTNERSHIP. This TRUTH may upset Eyes Wide Open but because of his union's betrayal many ex Belfast Dockers will have their EYES TIGHTLY SHUT.

He should do something about Trade Union Corruption... not weep about the consequences and then do nothing.

author by Eyes wide open - Trade Union Movementpublication date Tue Jan 30, 2007 15:52author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I know what's going on.

The so called trade unionists who're opposd to partnership have jumped on the bandwagon of dying Belfast Dockers to whip Ictu and Siptu by blaming Partnership for their deaths.

Yes I agree with Parthership but I don't agree with men working at dangerous cargos to make the employers profit.

If Larkin and Connolly were alive today they'd be all for Partnership. It gives the workers a say in their future.

Look at the way Gerry Adams has changed, he supports the structures which he once fought against.

Only the NO men can't change.

Workers need good representation, in trade unions and in govenment. Bertie Aherne is a Socialist and he believes in Trade Unionism.

I am sorry that Belfast Dockers are dying of asbestosis but what can the trade union movement do for them. We must insure that this never happens again.

author by Eddie - Siptupublication date Tue Jan 30, 2007 16:30author address author phone Report this post to the editors

For eyes wide open to claim that Larkin and Connolly would agree with the wholesale selling out of workers and for the trade union movements watering down of their principles is beyond CONTEMPT.

Has this self rightous fool read any of James Connolly writings?

It's perfectly obvious what he's doing, when he can't defend himself or the Trade Union movement he brings out the RED UNDER THE BED scare.

How dare he suggest that trade unionists have an other agenda when they voice concern for dying workers.

What's wrong with Eyes is, he now knows that all trade unionists can see what a sell out Partnership has been, and as further proof, if proof were needed they can point to cover up by the union leadership that workers are dying because of union / employer partnership.

The disgraceful fact [and one which the union leadership know all about] is that ITGWU were an equal partner in the condemning to death of the Belfast Dockers.

While eyes wide open may think he can represent workers by co-toeing to employers, if he expresses any concern to the leadership he will be dropped like a hot potato.

Eyes, make up your mind whose side you're on

author by Hugh Murphy - Sacked by my union ex Belfast Dockerpublication date Wed Jan 31, 2007 11:35author address author phone Report this post to the editors

While laying a wreath at Jim Larkin's grave , Jack O'Connor said Larkin would be angered at the inequalities in Ireland's new prosperity.


Jack O'Connor and his union are mostly responsible for these equalities.

Someone should tell Jack O'Connor that Larkin FOUGHT the employers on behalf of the working class, O'Connor and his union betray everything which Larkin believed in by seeing the employers as PARTNERS - which obviously must be a SELL OUT of the working class.

Instead of paying Lip Service to Larkin, O'Connor should practice what LARKIN preached.

The corruption of his union in Belfast which he is covering up , AND the asbestosis sufferers which he can't deny, make him an enemy of Jim Larkin rather than a follower.

author by Cowardly tom - sacked by itgwu and employerspublication date Fri Feb 02, 2007 19:54author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I've been gone for a while - in my head. Drink. I've been trying to work why I go on these benders. Is it guilt over what I didn't do at the Docks. I... and many others [and I'm not trying to excuse what a miserable cowardly git I was] allowed Murphy to be persecuted - by ITGWU and the employers.

Everything he and Arthur Rafferty say about the asbestos is true. I also worked at it but Dont so far have any symptoms. Not that it matters that much, the drink will get me first. This is probably why its Arthur who's leading the fight now, he was always very fit, an ex boxer who didn't drink or smoke. The other dockers all died before the asbestos could get them.

In sobriety, I wish I'd stood by Murphy and fought the union. I'm going to die shortly and what have I done with my life.

But it was made so easy for us not to support Murphy. After he was sacked the union brought in Paddy Devlin who supported the Union and Employers Court, and he was a great Socialist, THEY'RE EASILY BOUGHT THESE SOCIALISTS.

I wish I'd supported Murphy, then, maybe I'd have done something worthwhile with my life. Why did I listen to the union and the employers telling me Murphy was a troublemaker, and then they sacked me. If I'd my life over again it would be a different story.

What happened to me and the Belfast Dockers, what made us so scared?

Our great grandfathers were the men who fought with Larkin, and as the Dockers jobs could only be passed down from father to son where did the cowardice creep in?

If Arthur Rafferty is in touch with Hugh Murphy I ask him to forgive me.

author by Cowardly Tom - Also sacked by ITGWUpublication date Mon Feb 05, 2007 12:46author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I will answer Hugh Murphy's opening question.

" What difference is there between union and employer".

As the workers down there in the South have come to realise, the answer is NONE.

Thirty years after the corruption of Union and Employers Courts in Belfast, Partnership has arrived in the South.

Hugh Murphy told the Belfast Dockers 40 years ago that our union was selling us out.

Had we listened to him we'd still have had our jobs and maybe, just maybe... some of the men dying of asbestosis would not have got the disease.



author by Arthur Raffertypublication date Wed Feb 07, 2007 18:42author email arthur_rafftery at hotmail dot co dot ukauthor address author phone 07715921137Report this post to the editors

In reply to Michael Siptu, Yes Michael i am dying with ASBESTOSIS. I have been diagnosed from 2001. I have hospital proof if needed i also have proof our union knew about the danger of asbestos but they never told me, they were warned by the government as early as early as 1960 but gave nothing for us members. As a union they had a duty to care for its members to get us the protection we needed to do the job. But they got us nothing not even a paper mask. Doctors from queens university done a study about asbestos in 1950 their report was printed in the Lancer all doctors in northern ireland got a copy of their report as did government , employers, unions all who had anything to do with asbestos. If they didnt know they did not want to know. Factory inspectorate wanrned all about the danger of asbestos as early as 1945 , said workers would need masks, goggles and restperators while working with asbestos. no one took any notice Michael if you want to know more you can get in cotact with me . As for eyes open and eyes wide open and jack o connor of siptu i will not waste my time talking to you, as human beings you are a joke. See you in court Jack o connor . Cowardly Tom thank you for your letter but i would like to meet you to talk about old times...

author by Michael - EX SIPTUpublication date Thu Feb 08, 2007 14:46author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Arthur, I'm sorry if my posting offended you, I don't doubt that you are suffering from this terrible disease and I've no doubt that ITGWU is responsible for you suffering from it, and that the Trade Union Movement including ICTU is responsible for covering this up.

It is JUST that I can't believe that Jack O'Connor, who I saw recently at James Larkin's grave can be as scurrilous as the employers. No doubt there's a well paid job awaiting him when he's finished selling out the workers.


It's obvious that they care more about PARTNERSHIP than they do about UNION MEMBERS LIVES.

This betrayal of union members is so disgusting that it can only be rectified by a wholesale inquiry into ITGWU ICTU AND SIPTU, maybe then we'll get the TRUTH.

Again Arthur, I apologise for doubting you, You have your medical reports the Trade Union Movement has its denials.

author by Cowardly tom - Also sacked by ITGWUpublication date Sat Mar 17, 2007 12:50author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The so-called Trade unionists down there in Dublin might be interested in a TV program which is being broadcast on the UTV insight programme on Monday 19th March at 8pm.

This programme exposes how Belfast workers were driven to their DEATHS by an uncaring union and money grasping employers.

author by Seamus RKpublication date Sun Mar 18, 2007 15:34author address author phone Report this post to the editors

See Jack O'Connor & Lord Widgery Inquiry in Sligo

author by Cowardly Tom - Also sacked by ITGWUpublication date Mon Mar 19, 2007 21:33author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Maybe now, having watched the UTV programme about Belfast Dockers who're dying from asbestosis
and ignored by their union ITGWU / SIPTU, some Siptu leader - OR member of Bertie Ahernes government down there will ASK -


Partnership works both ways. Bertie Ahernes government MUST agree with SIPTU not meeting the dying Belfast Dockers.

Some government down there... and some UNION.

I will not answer my own question, but for the sake of SLOW SIPTU members it's well documented on the pages of indymedia.

author by Cowardly Tom - Also sacked by ITGWUpublication date Sun Apr 08, 2007 10:46author address author phone Report this post to the editors

In today's Sunday World, in an article entitled: DYING DOCKER GETS NO JOY FROM UNION, Arthur Rafferty one of the Belfast Dockers dying from asbestosis has labeled his meeting with Joe O'Flynn, General Secretary of SIPTU "A WASTE OF TIME".

Obviously, It seems the two years which O'Flynn made Arthur wait for the meeting were not put to good use, as all O'Flynn could do was blame the British Government. O'Flynn also stated that "All records relating to asbestos coming into Belfast Docks have now gone missing".

HOW CONVIENENT for O'Flynn who STRANGLY knows this but very little else, told Arthur "he would be going back to Dublin to check if the British Government ever warned them about the dangers of asbestos".

In a blatant attempt to absolve the union of any WRONGDOING, O'Flynn offered to set up a meeting between Arthur and the surviving members of the union who ran the deep see docks in Belfast - which was ITGWU.

Arthur rightfully declined to participate in this side-lining and stated, "If I was ever in a room with any of them I would take their heads off, because they are the ones that sentenced me to death".

I am asking the members down South WHO DON'T HAVE HARD MEN AT THEIR BACKS to demand that the SIPTU leadership INVESTIGATE this TRADE UNION CORRUPTION.

author by Hugh Murphy - Sacked by ITGWU and Belfast employerspublication date Tue May 01, 2007 12:56author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I will answer Cowardly Tom's question in the above posting.

YES Tom, apparently James Connolly did indeed DIE for these Corrupt Union leaders.

That these union leaders can participate in May Day parades and extoll the virtues of Organised Labour while marching behind a banner with Larkin and Connolly portrayed on it, shows just how passive and malleable the rank and file union members are.

Of course, these 'union leaders' are helped enormously by a friendly right wing media which won't print opposite opinions to the right wing agenda which these 'union leaders' hold.

How can a so-called union leader betray everything which Larkin and Connolly achieved for the working class, and still claim to be follower's of these great men?

author by D_Dpublication date Tue May 01, 2007 15:54author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Didn't Joe O'Flynn (SIPTU GS) agree on (secret) camera on television to meet you 'in a week'? Did this not happen, and was there no progress?

author by Hugh Murphy - Sacked by ITGWU and Belfast employerspublication date Tue May 01, 2007 16:59author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Dear DD,

Yes you're correct, O'Flynn did agree to a meeting, ONLY because he was caught on camera, but the meeting was a waste of time. All O'Flynn would agree to do was to arrange a meeting between Arthur Rafferty and any ex union officials still alive.

Arthur, rightfully refused to this, as these men were responsible for the Dockers working at asbestos in the first place.

In Sunday World [northern edition] 29th April, O'Flynn stated:

"Arthur Rafferty is reported as saying that the union failed to pass on information to workers on the dangers of working with asbestos during 1950's and 1960's - We are not aware of any union in the world that had such information at that time. The Trade Union movement globally began to express concern about potential use of asbestos in the late 1970's."

It's a well know fact, the dangers of asbestos were well known were well known by the end of the 2nd World War, and warnings were circulated to union's and employers in the 1940's and 1960's.

AND, Arthur Rafferty has a file on such events and the earliest date for compensation for asbestosis is a Welsh Docker, 1901.

The above statement by O'Flynn is patently untrue and is an attempt by O'Flynn to absolve his union from any blame when they ordered the Belfast Dockers to discharge asbestos.

The continued lying and attempted cover-up by SIPTU and O'Flynn, to name but one, is a disgrace to Trade Unionism and once again an attempt by SIPTU to serve the interests of their masters in IBEC.

If the officials in SIPTU haven't the common decency to behave like MEN then SIPTU's legacy will be one of cronyism, betrayal and dragging the principles of Larkin and Connolly through the employers CESS-PIT.

author by Hugh Murphy - Sacked by ITGWU and Belfast employerspublication date Mon May 21, 2007 09:45author address author phone Report this post to the editors

An article in the British Labour magazine, Labour Research, should be of interest to the O'Flynn, O'Connor, De Rossa and all the deaf and dumb people in ICTU, SIPTU and the Labour Movement in general.

The Court of Appeal has given ex Docker Robert Thompson and Dockers widow Winifred Rice the right to sue the DTI - Department for Trade and Industry for compensation. Robert Thompson is suing for contracting asbestosis and Mrs Rice for the death of her husband from the same deadly cargo.

The Court of Appeal stated: "By the time these men become ill through asbestos, they can't trace and pursue many of the private Dock companies that employed them. But the dock labour boards knew they were exposing men to harm by allowing them to work unprotected."

The ruling by the British Court of Appeal will have SIPTU OFFICIALS and the rest of the deaf and dumb trade Unionists here shaking in their shoes.

At the Belfast Docks WE as Dockers were ordered by our union ITGWU to discharge asbestos, even though the union and employers had been told of the dangers.

I was personally present when 'Paddy the Turk Brennan' told union officials of the danger. Paddy was told in no uncertain language what to do to himself.

The union officials who are covering up this disgraceful Travesty of Trade Unionism should be driven from the union without compensation or pension and branded what they are - employers in disguise.

Jim Larkin and James Connolly deserve better than to be represented by TRAITORS TO THE WORKING CLASS.

author by Arthur Rafferty - Justice For Dockerspublication date Wed Jan 16, 2008 17:57author email arthur at justicefordockers dot orgauthor address author phone 07715921137Report this post to the editors

I Have been fighting these corrupt employers and corrupt ITGWU / SIPTU union for 7 years for compensation for the sufferers of Asbestos and Asbestos relagted diseases. Now it has come to my knowledge that medical doctos and members of the legal profession have colluded with each other to make sure people who suffer from asbestos and asbestos related diseases dont get a penny of compensation. They make sure the cases fall through which in part please the large insurence companys and go on NOT to BLACKEN the name of the British government. People have come to me asking for Help!. I have wrote to the organisations concerned but have got no reply. I am in the process of writting to the Human Rights in Strasbourg about these cases. Anyone suffering from asbestos and have came across the same cases get in contact with me through.




author by Hugh Murphy - Sacked by ITGWU and Belfast employerspublication date Thu Jan 17, 2008 23:45author address author phone Report this post to the editors


I've been in contact with Margot Walstrom, vice president of the European Union, through her blog, and she's just another cover up merchant who doesn't want to know about corrupt trade unions or Dying Belfast Dockers.

Hugh Murphy

author by Arthur Rafferty - justice for dockerspublication date Fri Aug 22, 2008 20:03author email arthur at justicefordockers dot orgauthor address author phone 07715921137Report this post to the editors

My name is Arthur Rafferty I run a group called Justice For Dockers. I was first diagnosed with Asbestosis in Jan 2001. Since then i have been fighting to get compensation for a sickness , which i and many other working class people suffer from. Because cause of a cargo of asbestos brought into the port of belfast by a corrupt government, employers, trade union also with knowledge of medical and legal people. Over the years i have built up a dossier on these so called aesbestos specailists both medical and legal, and what i have come accross does not make good reading. These doctors are working with legal people also so called trade union bosses so that asbestos claims fall through even before they reach court. I have many people coming to me with stories of their familys who have died of an asbestos related disease and these currupt people have done them out off compensation. I have put all these corrupt doctors and legal peoples names and trade union bosses on a file when the time is right i will have the file pubblished. Any working class people who have been going through cases like mine an would like to share their stories and bring these evil people to justice can get in contact with me at...

info can be found on

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