UK dockers at port of Liverpool hold further two-week strike

When WSWS reporters asked how the strike is being managed by the union bureaucracy and raised the need for workers to take control of disputes themselves, Mike answered, “We run this strike, the rank-and-file members. It’s up to us what happens.

Margot Miller

07 11 2022

“They are trying to intimidate us back to work and crush strikes and drive us backwards. Britain is the home of the industrialised working class. It’s the home of trade unions and the British working class is like an elephant. We don’t forget and when we move our feet, we dig them in like clay. As Rosa Luxemburg, said we face socialism or barbarism.”

Another young docker, Jake, said, “The pickets have received phone calls from the management asking them what they thought of the deal and if they would consider crossing the picket line. I received a phone call and was asked about accepting the deal with the job losses and crossing the picket line. I put the phone down. Some of the younger strikers were feeling the pressure with rents, mortgages and mouths to feed and management were selecting those they believed had dependents to ring up.”

“We have to stick it out,” he continued. “We have to fight. It’s all or nothing, we have to fight or die. My grandfather worked the docks and many of the pickets lived in the vicinity and he and many others knew the history of the struggles of dockworkers going back to the pen system [dockers had to line up daily for casual employment].”

Workers readily engage in political discussion with WSWS reporters, sensing what they face involves a political struggle against both the Conservative government, and a possible Labour government after a general election. Labour leader Starmer refused to meet striking dockers outside the Labour party conference and opposes strikes. The message from the union bureaucracy, however, is that there should be no talk of either a general strike or general election on the picket line.

The sentiment of workers is in sharp contrast with the divisive strategy of the union tops. No further strikes have been called by Unite at Felixstowe, the biggest container port in the UK, where workers took two eight-day pay strikes, and a further week’s stoppage from September 27 coinciding with the strike at port Liverpool. Liverpool and Felixstowe which together handle 60 percent of all container freight were treated as separate disputes by Unite.