Socialist Worker

Dover docks: All out against outsourcing

Issue No. 2129

Hundreds of dock workers in Dover are set to strike for three days from Thursday of this week against plans to outsource 190 jobs. The workers are to kick off this round of strikes with a demonstration through the town on Thursday.

The workers, members of the Unite union, struck for two days last week.

Strikers say that the privatisation plans will threaten jobs and pensions at the port.

One dock worker told Socialist Worker, “We have to win this dispute. Most of us have worked at the port for more than 20 years, some for more than 30 years. We have worked hard to safeguard a decent pension and now all that is under threat.

“These privatisation plans would split the workforce and are likely be a model for other ports to do the same. That’s why this fight isn’t just for us – but the future of the docks.”

Dover Harbour Board boss Bob Goldfield made extensive efforts to secure scab labour to run the port during the strike.

Yet in a show of solidarity a group of those brought in to cover the strikers walked out of the port, saying they did not want to undermine the action.

This follows a similar action by a group of former Gurkhas who had been brought in to break the strike but then walked out in support of the union members.

A tug worker told Socialist Worker, “Morale is very high after the last strike. Everyone is sticking together – despite management’s efforts to drive a wedge between workers and the union and to pressurise people to work during the strike.

“The main issue for most of us is pensions – we are determined to keep up the fight.”

Local Labour MP Gwyn Prosser has called on Bob Goldfield to “consider his position” after a leaked letter from ferry operators showed how little support there is for his plans even at the level of other businesses in the ports.

A demonstration through Dover two weeks ago attracted widespread support and delegations of workers from other ports in southern England and France.

The harbour board is trying to push through privatisation at the very time that the market has lost credibility.

Other workers should get behind this fight – by joining the picket lines and the demonstration and collecting money to support the strikers.

Demonstration assembles at 12 noon, Thursday 27 November, Pencester Gardens, Dover. Email messages of support to and protests to Bob Goldfield at

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Tue 25 Nov 2008, 18:29 GMT
Issue No. 2129
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