Message-ID: <>
Date: Mon, 23 Feb 1998 22:27:20 +0000
Sender: Forum on Labor in the Global Economy <LABOR-L@YORKU.CA>
From: LabourNet <chrisbailey@GN.APC.ORG>
Subject: Liverpool dockers letter to supporters

Liverpool dockers letter to supporters

23 February 1998

The following letter has been sent to Liverpool dockers' supporters over the last few weeks.

Liverpool Dockworkers Final Settlement

Dear Colleagues,

After 2 years and 4 months the Liverpool Dockworkers have decided to end their dispute following a recommendation from the shop stewards.

Over the past 4 weeks the shop stewards have been debating what direction the dispute had been moving in. The conclusions that we came to were that in certain key areas, the campaign had started to falter and that in order not to see good men and women lose everything or risk a collapse from within, we decided to conclude a collective agreement on the best possible terms achievable.

We felt that following the last secret ballot in October 1997 in which we gained a 70% rejection of the employers offer, a springboard for greater supportive actions should of been launched. In terms of a political intervention from the new Labour government by the use of their 14% share holding that they have in the Co. and a far more positive role from our own union leadership in calling for an increase in both the national support through the T.G.W.U. industrial branches and international support via the I.T.F. That support never materialised in fact both of these organisations decided to support the line of the Mersey Docks and Harbour Co. in stating that the dispute was over.

This was also compounded by the fact that the two biggest container companies that use the port of Liverpool ACL and CAST had not been touched by industrial action for some time. We also suffered the sad loss of two of our stalwarts from the picket line who died over over the Christmas/NewYear period making a total of four during the course of the dispute.

These elements along with the extreme hardship that the men and women have had to endure over the past 28 months and the more hard line tactics of the police on the picket lines were major factors in our decision to bring the heroic struggle of the Liverpool dockers their families and their supporters to some form of conclusion.

The terms of the settlement were based on up to £28,000 redundancy payment for all ex Mersey Docks men. We have approximately 80 of our dockers who are excluded from this process and it is our intention to raise some financial package to ease the obvious debt burden they have accumulated over the last two and a half years. It is indeed impossible to quantify the hardship experienced by the dockers and their families over the last 21/2 years. Importantly, the limited redundancy payments being made to approximately 2/3 of the sacked dockers will be subject not only to debt repayment but also be reclaimed by the benefits office. Tragically, four dockers died during the course of our struggle and their families rights are currently the source of some dispute with Mersey Docks. Over the Christmas period our brave dockers and their families attended two funerals of comrades who died as a direct result of the stress created by such a long and bitter struggle.

A number of jobs are on offer in the port and we continue to examine the practicability of this option. A joint approach will be made in relation to the pension entitlements of the majority of dockers. We have to recognise that work in Liverpool is a rare commodity and we expect that all our comrades will experience great difficulty over the next few years.

It is with a great sadness in our hearts that we write to all our magnificent supporters and express our deepest gratitude. We have to build upon our internationalism, upon the experiences of all our struggles let the words of a great Irish trade unionist capture our thoughts;

Who is it speaks of defeat? I tell you a cause like ours is greater than defeat can know. It is the power of powers.

James Larkin.

Yours in Solidarity,

Jimmy Nolan