Mersey dockers vote to end 28-month dispute

After one of the longest industrial conflicts in recent history, Mersey dockers yesterday finally called a halt to their 28-month-old dispute. Barrie Clement, Labour Editor, argues that the deal accepted by the port workers gave them less than an earlier offer.

A mass meeting of Liverpool dockers yesterday voted by four to one to accept up to pounds 28,000 a man in settlement of their dispute with the Mersey Docks and Harbour Company (MDHC).

Management calculates that the offer, aimed at putting a stop to the daily picket line which the dockers have mounted at the harbour entrance, will cost the company around pounds 10m.

The industrial action began on 28 September 1995 when 329 port workers refused to cross a picket line mounted by 80 colleagues who had been dismissed from another company.

Trevor Furlong, managing director of MDHC, said he was pleased the dispute had come to an end "for the sake of our shareholders, employees and Merseyside in general". The company's shares finished 6.5p up on the day at 497.5p.

Arguably, the peace formula was inferior - from the dockers' point of view - to proposals tabled by the company last October, but which they rejected by two to one. As part of yesterday's settlement the company offered to consider the former dockers for any vacancies that might occur. Last year's offer, withdrawn after its rejection, involved a specific plan to make 40 jobs available on top of the pounds 28,000 cash settlement. The jobs plan was taken off the table after it became increasingly clear to the company that the business could operate without them.

It is understood the latest moves came after dockers' shop stewards concluded their fight for the reinstatement of all the dismissed men was a lost cause. "They had been under an awful lot of pressure and it was absolutely clear there was no prospect of them winning the dispute. Their only strategy was to show determination, but it became clear that determination was not enough," said one union source.

Dockers' leaders contacted the Transport and General Workers' Union (TGWU) who then put pressure on the company to make a fresh gesture.

From the first day of the dispute the port workers picketed the harbour and managed to secure solidarity action by dockers in other countries. Management originally tabled a formula worth pounds 10,000 a head.

The TGWU never declared the dispute "official" because the men failed to hold a ballot before withdrawing their labour and were therefore taking unlawful action. But the TGWU has contributed heavily to a hardship fund set up to help the dockers' families.

News
Alex Salmond said he accepted 'the democratic verdict of the people'
newsSNP leader says Scotland must move forward as 'one nation'
Arts and Entertainment
Friends is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year
tvSeries celebrates 20th anniversary
Sport
Yaya Touré (left) and Bayern Munich’s Spanish defender Juan Bernat
footballToure's lack of defensive work is big problem for City
Voices
voicesApple continually kill off smaller app developers, and that's no good for anyone
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't
tv

Liam Neeson's Downton dreams

Sport
Wembley Stadium
footballNews follows deal with Germany
Arts and Entertainment
A spell in the sun: Emma Stone and Colin Firth star in ‘Magic in the Moonlight’
filmReview: Magic In The Moonlight
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Sport
A 'Sir Alex Feguson' tattoo
football

Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear
tv

Thriller is set in the secret world of British espionage

Life and Style
life

News
ScienceGallery: Otherwise known as 'the best damn photos of space you'll see till 2015'
Life and Style
fashion

Bomber jacket worn by Mary Berry sells out within an hour

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

SQL Developer - Watford/NW London - £320 - £330 p/d - 6 months

£320 - £330 per day: Ashdown Group: The Ashdown Group have been engaged by a l...

Head of Audit

To £75,000 + Pension + Benefits + Bonus: Saxton Leigh: My client is looking f...

Audit Manager Central Functions

To £85,000 + banking benefits: Saxton Leigh: You will be expected to carry out...

Credit Risk Audit Manager

Up to £90,000 + benefits: Saxton Leigh: Credit Risk Audit Manager required to ...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week