|john||09/01/2011||A little history |
Alfie was coming towards the end of his day in the accounting room of the Great Southern and Western Railway Works at Inchicore. It had started early, and his back was, as usual, sore from leaning over the great ledgers. Here in the office it was relatively peaceful, though outside you could hear the clatter of machinery in the sheds, where hundreds of workers were engaged in making the great railway engines. Alfie knew he was lucky to have this job; it was only last year that work as a clerk in the GSWR had been made open to competition, rather than granted through a director's recommendation. As Alfie had no contacts in the company, he wouldn't have stood a chance. He had been trying desperately to get work since he had finished school, in everywhere from Guinness's to the city shops. But now his future was secured; perhaps he would even be fortunate enough to get one of the houses the GSWR had built around the Works, each one with an allotment where a family could grow vegetables and keep a pig. There was no doubt this company looked after its workers and their families. They provided a dispensary doctor, the Model School and the Railwayman's Institute, with a library with snooker and newspapers.
Alfie couldn't understand why some of the men, especially the engineers, were discontented and talked of unions and even strike. The strike in 1902 had not been a success and he had heard it had caused a lot of bitterness. He was certainly not going to get involved in anything like that; he was fully aware that he was one of the lucky ones. A father who had had his health broken by year after year of casual work down on the docks, lifting heavy weights in all weathers, had taught Alfie that a permanent job in a warm dry room was nothing to be taken for granted.
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