Thursday, September 25, 2008

1995: Liverpool docks dispute begins

On 25th September 1995, the marathon Liverpool docks dispute began when 329 stevedores refused to cross a picket line mounted by eighty former co-workers, who had been sacked by the Torside contractors. The Mersey Docks and Harbour Company - who sought to crush any resistance to the casualisation of working conditions - then made the 329 redundant. A two and a half year campaign for reinstatement was initiated, which was isolated and then strangled by the Transport and General Workers Union. The end finally came in February, when the sacked dockers accepted a settlement of £28,000 from MDHC - just £85 per head.

The efforts of the sacked dockers and their relatives attracted both international solidarity and celebrity support (most notably from then Liverpool FC forward Robbie Fowler), and has since been seen as one of the first examples of working class people using the internet in struggle against bosses. It was also notable for the alliances made between sacked dockers and social movements outside of organised labour, such as Reclaim The Streets. In 1999, Liverpool writer Jimmy McGovern dramatised the dispute for television, with Irvine Welsh.

In 2008, an exhibition at the FACT centre showed photos taken during the dispute by Walton-born photographer David Sinclair.
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