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Dock strike – now start to picket

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Issue 1
Liverpool dockers on strike

Liverpool dockers on strike (Pic: John Sturrock)

The registered ports and all the largest unregistered ports are supporting the national dock strike.

But there are weaknesses. Very few pickets have been sent out beyond their own ports. This will create serious problems if employers start to use small, non-unionised ports such as Wivenhoe and Brightlingsea.


In Yarmouth supply vessels for North Sea oil rigs have been given dispensations from the strike by the union. Local officials have argued that if the work is not done by Yarmouth ships it will be done by Dutch vessels instead!


Pickets have been set up at most docks. At Ardrossan, vehicles bound for Arran have been successfully turned back.

At Hunterston ISTC members who have been scabbing on the miners for four months are now breaking the dockers’ picket line by continuing to load iron ore and coal. The small picket line of miners and dockers can provide the basis for further joint activities.


Picketing other than at Hull is not to be considered until a stewards’ meeting at Goole on Friday.

Port shop steward Walter Cunningham stated, ‘We want to go forward with the miners and we shall not return until the miners’ strike is over,’ but added, ‘If the question comes up on Friday we’ll consider picketing the wharves. At present though there seems to be no likelihood of mass pickets.’

Rank and file miners lobbied docks stewards to request permission to address a mass meeting last Monday. The request was refused on the grounds that three weeks ago a mass meeting of dockers voted not to stop work in support of the miners.

At Grimsby, scab labour had been used to unload fish after the regular workers refused.


Fish is only being landed on Mondays and Tuesdays. At Peterhead dockers who had previously come out voted to return to work on Tuesday. The dockers handle oil rig supply vessels and have decided to give them dispensation.


Both these ports are now closed to cargo traffic. These non-scheme ports are among five largest in the country. But the leadership of the TGWU has refused to demand the extension of the scheme.

(21 July, 1984)

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