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Strike, London Docks

Volume 463: debated on Wednesday 13 April 1949

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Mr.

(by Private Notice) asked the Minister of Labour whether he has any further statement to make on the London Docks strike.

Yes, Sir. The information this morning showed the total number of stevedores and dockers on strike as 15,030. The majority of the lightermen have accepted work in loyal observance of the decision which was taken last night but an unknown number absented themselves. At a meeting of the Transport and General Workers' Union this morning, a general decision was reached to resume work tomorrow at the normal starting time. Following agreement with the port employers, the Transport and General Workers' Union have also instructed their docks officers to assist in the building up of the gangs that are at present broken. The continuity rule will then apply to the newly constituted gangs of men available in the port for work. I should like to express my appreciation of the public spirited action of the union in these matters.

I take it from the much better complexion of the news which the right hon. Gentleman has given us, and which we all welcome, that there still remains the position of the stevedores' union. Can the Minister assure us that meanwhile, in view of this development, he is satisfied about the position of perishable foodstuffs?

The resumption of work by the workers of the Transport and General Workers' Union makes the situation much easier. We shall still be losing the services of the stevedores but the Government have every intention of taking every step open to them to ensure the proper flow of the necessary food supplies and other things.

May I ask the Minister, as a trade unionist, whether this is not a somewhat mean and contemptible method of strike breaking?

The hon. Member asks me that question "as a trade unionist." I would say that if one examines the motives in this matter one will find a good example of a mean and contemptible attempt to take advantage of other people.