After a hard-fought struggle, dockers in Liverpool have won an industrial pay dispute against port operator Mersey Docks and Harbour Company Limited (MDHC).
Seven weeks ago, the Liverpool dockers downed tools and took to the picket line when their employer MDHC, which is owned by the UK’s second largest stevedore Peel Ports Group, refused to accept the workers’ claim for a pay increase in line with inflation – despite Peel making over £140 million in profit in the previous year.
Today the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) and the International Dockworkers Council (IDC) welcomed the Unite the Union dockers victory in Liverpool.
“This is a tremendous victory not only for Liverpool dockers, but for dockers and workers around the world,” said ITF President and Dockers’ Section chair Paddy Crumlin. “The courage and commitment of the Liverpool dockers to stand up and fight back against an employer that seemed to care more about their shareholders than their workers – during the worst cost of living crisis in recent history – will inspire workers everywhere to fight for pay justice and a decent standard of living,” he said.
IDC General Coordinator Dennis Daggett said “the Liverpool dockers are at the forefront of the fight for dignity and respect on the waterfront. Peel Ports’ initial offer disrespected these workers who have been crucial to keeping UK and global supply chains moving through the pandemic. The global dockworkers’ movement speaks as one voice today in celebrating this win and congratulating the workers and Unite the Union.”
Win follows concerted action
The win in Liverpool follows weeks of action at the port after the rank-and-file voted overwhelmingly to strike for two weeks from the 19 September 2022, and subsequent threats of job losses and false allegations about workers’ pay from Peel Ports.
Despite the threat of redundancies, the Liverpool dockers were rock solid in their determination to secure their wage claim and committed to further industrial action by striking for two further periods. Their motto throughout was ‘we came out together, we’ll go back in together and we’ll win together’.
Crumlin and Daggett acknowledged the tremendous global solidarity that flowed into Liverpool during the course of the dispute from longshore workers on the west coast of the US all the way to ‘wharfies in New Zealand’.
“ITF and IDC dockers affiliates from around the world pledged support and stepped up to put pressure on MDHC and Peel Port through that relationships with shipping lines, pension funds and investors. It was inspiring to see international delegations on the picket line and dockers union globally united, acting in. the interests of these workers,” said Crumlin.
Liverpool an ‘icon’
“We all know the Liverpool dockers’ history,” said Crumlin, “and there was no way that the international dockers’ movement was going to sit idly by. So again, we congratulate the Liverpool dockers for their victory, we congratulate Sharon and Unite’s leadership, and we congratulate all unions who stood alongside the Liverpool dockers in their fight for a fair deal,” said Crumlin.
In the words of Dennis A. Dagget: “Once again, Liverpool has shown why it is an icon for the IDC. The courage, unity and determination shown by the dockers at the Port of Liverpool is a lesson that no trade unionist should omit. It is without doubt a huge victory and a direct message loud and clear to anyone who attempts to undermine the rights of dockers anywhere in the world: they will meet us face to face. And we will be united.”
About the ITF: The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) is a democratic, affiliate-led federation of transport workers’ unions recognised as the world’s leading transport authority. We fight passionately to improve working lives; connecting trade unions and workers’ networks from 147 countries to secure rights, equality and justice for their members. We are the voice of the almost-20 million women and men who move the world.
About the IDC: The International Dockworkers Council is an association made up of dockworker organizations from around the world. Its basic principles define it as a unitary, independent, democratic, representative and assembly organization of the working class.