The 1949 Docks Strike was notable as an international solidarity action in support of strike action by Canadian seamen of the Canadian Seamen’s Union. Canadian employers had used scab crews (in the Seafarers’ International Union) to load ships. One of these, the SS Gulfside, had remained strike bound in Avonmouth from 1st April. A second ship, the SS Montreal City arrived with a cargo of tomatoes and bananas.

As tugmen and dockers refused to work the blacked ships, the Labour Government brought in troops to unload the Montreal City. They used the argument that there was perishable food (at this time of food shortage). This argument was exposed, however, when they planned to use troops to load cars for the return journey across the Atlantic.

Only five years earlier during the Second World War, Avonmouth dockers had been to the fore in their then illegal strike action. This action was condemned by the Labour Party in coalition with the government and by the Communist Party.

Interestingly by 1949 the Communist Party were in favour of this strike action, giving support in the pages of the Daily Worker.

 

Royal Edward Dock Avonmouth 1951 (Paul Townsend on Flickr: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/)

 

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