The United Stationary Engine Drivers, Firemen, Motormen and Machinemens' Trade Union was founded in Limerick in 1827. Little is known of its first ninety years, there being no records extant. In the early 20th century the union affiliated to the Irish Transport and General Workers Union (ITGWU). But in May 1932 members decided by ballot to disaffiliate on the grounds that the ITGWU was a labourers union and didn't cater to their needs.
The Union registered with the Registrar of Friendly Societies in October 1932 and established an administrative infrastructure including; a chairman, treasurer, two trustees and a secretary. The decade after this registration was rather turbulent. The first secretary was James Keyes, by 1937 it was Joseph Flanagan, by 1938 it was Robert J. Murphy and in 1940 it was Joseph Flanagan again.
In November 1941 the Union re-registered as the Irish Power Operatives and Allied Workers Trade Union in an effort to take advantage of the 1941 Trade Union Bill and facilitate administrative reorganisation. In April 1943, however, it reverted to its original name. During the Second World War, acting under the Emergency Powers Act 1939 and the wages standstill order imposed by the government, the Union was forced to apply to the Minister for Industry and Commerce, Sean Lemass, for wage increases and bonuses.
The Union was a minor one, its membership never rising above a thousand. It was concentrated in Dublin though it did have a southern branch in Limerick. It was, however, very active in protecting the interests of its members against the onslaught of employers and other trade unions. Between 1932 and 1964, the Union occupied six different premises, its headquarters from 1962 to 1964 being Joseph Flanagan's home at 5 Eccles Street.
This collection was deposited in UCD Archives by the Irish Labour History Society on 30 June 1982.
Scope and Content
Industrial relations: Dublin Port and Docks Board, Inchicore Manufacturing Company, ESB, Dublin Hospitals, British Margarine Company.
Legal affairs: Labour Court, Emergency Orders, solicitors.
Financial affairs: correspondence, subscription volumes, balance sheets, reports.