ON THIS DAY 1951: London dockers may support strike

EDP front page 6 Feb 1951. Photo: EDP Library EDP front page 6 Feb 1951. Photo: EDP Library

Thursday, February 6, 2014
5:43 PM

As part of a new daily online series we look back on what was making the news on this day in Norfolk. Today, we look at the Eastern Daily Press front page of Febraury 6, 1951.

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London dockers of the Royal Group came away from a meeting last night uncertain whether a slight majority in favour of supporting the Merseyside strikers meant they were expected to vote or not.

Just over half of the 1500 dockers present voted for a resolution saying they were in support of the Liverpool men, but making no mention of strike action. Only 15 voted against the resolution.

Meanwhile, apart from Merseyside and Salford, where about 9850 are on strike, all ports are working normally, Mr Aneurin Bevan, the Minister of Labour, told the House of Commons yesterday. Answering questions, Mr Bevan agreed that it was better to leave the dispute between the union and the men. He said: “It is hardly wise for the Government to intervene when the men themselves are putting matters right.”

Most of the men of the Royal Group, as they left last night’s meeting at which there were interruptions and arguments, thought the decision reached meant they should withdraw their labour today, but nearly half present did not vote. There are about 6000 dockers in the Royal Group. A further meeting will be held this morning, at which the position may be clarified.

Some Opposition

After the meeting small groups remained behind to continue to oppose strike action. Some said that if the Royal Group were out they would go over to Tilbury. From Merryside, spokesman including Mr Joe Harrison, chairman of the unoffcial Port Workers’ Committee, addressed the meeting. Today’s meeting is expected to have a far greater attendance. West India Docks are also meeting before they start work this morning.

Last night’s meeting was the third at which the London dockers had been called together to hear appeals to support the Merseyside strikers. A meeting in the morning was sparsley attended and the men were called again for lunch time. This time about 1,000 attended, but again there was no decision. A resolution calling for strike action was read but was not put as half the men walked out as soon as it had been read.

Position at Manchester

It was offcially stated yesterday by a Manchester Canal Company offcial that all work was at a standstill. The dispute arose over acceptance by their union of a 2s. a day increase for dockers.

The Manchester meeting at which decision was taken yesterday was addressed by members of the Port Workers’ Committee. One of the members, Mr Harry Phillips, said afterwards: “When this is over we propose to leave the Transport Workers Union and join the Stevedores’ Union which is one of the four negotiating unions recognised by the Dock Labour Board.”

After a meeting attended by nearly 1000 dockers at Salford last night, Mr G Intin, regional secretary of the union, said a statement made by Mr Phillips earlier in the day that there was a complete stoppage of dockers on Merryside was untrue. It was largely on this statement by MR Phillips that the Manchester dockers decided in cease work.

Dockers said last night there would be no resumption of work today. A futher mass meeting has been arranged for Thursday.

Among the 23 ships in Manchester docks is the Elder Daampster S.S Cochrane, with 7000 tons of American coal on board.

Food Position

In the House of Commons yesterday Mr M S McCorquodale (C, Epsom) asked the Minister of Labour what further action be purposed to take in view of Mr Arthur Deakin’s disclosures over the week-end and in view of the fact that any extension of the stoppage must have a grave effect on the defence programme.

Mr Bevan replied that it was essential the authority of the representatives of the union should in no way be impaired.

“We are delighted so far that the rest of the docks have not been affected. We hope the men at Salford, Liverpool and Birkenhead will see that the action of their colleagues elsewhere is a condemnation of their own behaviour.”

When Mr David Renton (Nat C Huntingdon) asked if pershable food stuff was being delayed by the strike, Mr Bevan replied: “I understand that the Ministry of Food at the moment are not apprehensive about the food position.”

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