The Cork Mother Jones Committee awarded the 2023 Spirit of Mother Jones Award to trades union leader Mick Lynch of the RMT.
The award was presented to Mr. Lynch at a meeting at the Dance Cork Firkin Crane last week as part of the Spirit of Mother Jones Festival.
Mick Lynch Lynch was born into an Irish Catholic family in Paddington, London in January 1962, the youngest of five children.
His father, Jackie Lynch, was from Cork city, and his mother, Ellen “Nellie” Morris, from outside Crossmaglen in South Armagh. Both emigrated to Britain during the Second World War.
Mick Lynch was appointed General Secretary of the National Union of Railway, Transport and Marine workers, (RMT) in 2021 and has led the fight to defend his members’ working conditions and pay as well as trying to protect the public and community services such as the National Health Service.
James Nolan spokesperson for the Cork Mother Jones Committee said: “We believe that Mick Lynch by his direct action, solid analysis, straight talking and plain speaking in defence of workers and union rights, has won him widespread support and respect among working people.
“His precise fact-based arguments and his eloquence in his media performances in the face of Tory Party opposition in the UK in relation to the support for public services such as the Railways, the National Health Service and public services, has ensured admiration and support from among many people as they recognise the validity of his comments.
“With Cork roots in the city centre, Mick Lynch continues to represent the fighting rebel spirit and tradition of his fellow Cork emigrant, Mary Harris, known as Mother Jones, who in earlier generations fought for social and trade union justice.
“The Cork Mother Jones Committee is proud to honour the Cork diaspora which leads the fight for the living”
This is the eleventh Spirit of Mother Jones award. The last British trades union leader to receive it was the late Dave Hopper of the Durham Miners Association who did so in 2016.
Previous recipients have included Gareth Peirce, Fr Peter McVerry, Louise O’Keeffe, Antoinette Keegan and Don O’Leary.
Who was Mother Jones?
Mary G. Harris Jones, born in Cork, was known as Mother Jones from 1897 onwards.
In American she became a labour organiser, schoolteacher, and dressmaker who became a prominent activits in politics and civil rights..
She helped coordinate major strikes, secure bans on child labour, and co-founded the socialist trade union, the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW).
After Jones’s husband and four children all died of yellow fever in 1867 and her dress shop was destroyed in the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, she became an organizer for the Knights of Labor and the United Mine Workers union.
In 1902, she was called “the most dangerous woman in America” for her success in organising miners and their families against the mine owners.