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National Dock Labour Scheme

Volume 201: debated on Tuesday 14 January 1992

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To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what developments have occurred in the former scheme ports since the abolition of the national dock labour scheme.

Since abolition, there has been 50 per cent. net reduction in the number of dockworkers in ex-scheme ports. Non-scheme ports, too, have had to review their working arrangements. Flexible working agreements, and the end of restrictive practices, are reported to have led, in some places, to 50 to 100 per cent. improvement in productivity. Management effort is no longer absorbed in industrial relations problems and it can concentrate on giving a better, cheaper service to customers. The competition among ports to provide faster turnround, at lower rates, benefits the whole economy as it prepares to enter the single European market. Trade has revived in major ports. For example. Bull has reopened its container terminal and the Alexandra dock. Prospects for attracting private capital and new industrial developments have improved, now that ports are free from the restrictions of the scheme. This investment will bring further benefits to the economy.