They Knew Why They Fought - Unnofficial struggles & Leadership on the Docks 1945 - 1989

A history of dockers’ struggles since the end of the war up to the defeated dock strike of 1989 and the abolition of the Dock Labour Scheme. This marked the end of a whole historical period in the dock transport industry.

The events in this hook are not dealt with fully anywhere else, including a very important aspect of trade union history - the break to the Blue Union in the Northern ports of Merseyside, Manchester and Hull.

The book shows what shaped the dockers’ militancy and their way of life; it traces the progress of their fight against casualisation and harsh working conditions and gives a history of the unofficial leaders that came forward in face of union bureaucracy.

Bill concludes that, “On the one side in the post-war period, there is a sorry tale of leaders whose policies revolve only around their own bureaucratic interests and who are far removed from the feelings, aspirations anti traditions of trade union membership. On the other side there is a magnificent story of workers’ will to fight and workers’ solidarity.”

From the experience of that will to fight which the dockers expressed the author draws confidence in a socialist future and brings out the lessons from this past period as to how it can be achieved. (Read full text)

Index Books
ISBN: 1-871518-09-1

By 27 June 1970 nearly half the country's dockers were on unofficial strike over a wage offer