The Liverpool Dock Strike of 1890

Author: Bean, R
Published in: International Review of Social History, vol. 18(1973) no.1, p. 51-68.
Summary: The strike of stevedores and dock labourers in the Port of London in 1889 has come to symbolise that ferment and upsurge of labour activity, in favour of combined action, which found expression in the “new unionism”. Indeed the great spread of union organisation in the London area at this period has usually been regarded as the main phase of new unionism. It is true that labour historians have long been aware that widespread agitation and union recruitment were also afoot among both provincial dockers and other groups who had been either unorganised, or whose previous attempts at unionism had proved sporadic and abortive. The Liverpool dockers, in particular, became engaged in 1890 in a protracted struggle involving almost as great a number of strikers as on the London docks in the previous year. This Liverpool strike had all the makings of a “labour war”, and it resulted in a profound impact upon industrial relations on the Mersey waterfront. However, the events and consequences of this dispute together with the activities of the National Union of Dock Labourers which organised it have so far received less detailed attention than either the dock strike in the metropolis or the London dockers union.
Copyright: Copyright © Internationaal Instituut voor Sociale Geschiedenis 1973
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