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New Left Review I/10, July-August 1961

Sam Spade

The Docks

the dockers had begun to go out just a week before. As nearly as I could figure out from the papers, the men were striking because a few workers in Lower Oliver’s Wharf had been employed as “listed” men and the dockers thought the jobs should be done only by “registered” workers. The representatives of the Transport and General Workers Union on the London Dock Board had voted to approve the employment of the “listed” men, and the union was trying to get the men back to work. The men were not only striking against their union; it seemed to me, in view of the mounting evidence that shippers were permanently taking their business away from the Port of London because of the series of strikes over the past few years, the men were also striking against their own best interests. From what I could tell, the game wasn’t worth the candle; they should sort out their problems inside the union, so that the union became their effective instrument of battle. But by the Monday, 15,000 men were out solid. I knew that didn’t happen without a good cause, and I wanted to find out what the hell that cause was.

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