Socialist Worker

Dover strikes suspended as boss forced into talks

by Esme Choonara
Issue No. 2131

Three strikes that were planned for this week by Unite union members at the Dover Harbour Board (DHB) have been called off pending talks.

More than 300 workers at the port struck twice last month against plans to outsource around 190 jobs to a private company.

The solid strike action has pressured DHB boss Bob Goldfield into negotiating with the union.

He told a local newspaper that he will discuss terms of the transfers – but that his privatisation plans will still go ahead early next year.

The union is opposed to the privatising of the jobs – which will split the workforce and threatens to drive down pay and conditions.

In particular most workers fear their pensions will suffer. Many have worked at the dock for up to 30 years and currently have a decent final salary pension scheme.

The strikes so far have shown both the determination of the workforce and the potential to draw in wider solidarity and organise mass picketing.

The action has had an impact and raised the profile of the dispute but has not yet forced the closure of the docks.

Strike action could resume if no agreement is reached.

Time is running short – the transfers are set to happen in the first week of January.

The workers deserve better than Bob Goldfield’s sell-off.

Stepping up and widening the union’s action would be the best way to force him to change his plans and to defend jobs at the port.

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Article information

Tue 9 Dec 2008, 18:04 GMT
Issue No. 2131
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