Britain's docks were empty on Wednesday night (15 July) as 46,000 dockers received confirmation that their nationwide strike was officially on, after a breakdown in negotiations between Union representatives and port employers.
GV Ships in London docks (4 shots)
GV Queen Elizabeth II at Southampton
GV Transport House
CV ZOOM BACK TO crowd at entrance
SV Crowd waiting
SV Delegates come out through crowd
CV Jones (SOF)
CV Tonge (SOF)
SEQ. 7: REPORTER: "Would you think personally it might well be a long strike?"
JONES: It could be a long strike. On the other hand the claim is so reasonable really, and I feel that we established this over the weekend not just to the employers but to other outside parties that were in the discussions. The claim is so modest and reasonable that I feel the employers will think again and that we should get movement fairly quickly. I should hope so anyway.
SEQ. 8: REPORTER: Mr Tonge, how do you regard this national dock strike now and this decision today?
TONGE: Highly unfortunate.
REPORTER: How serious do you think it will be for the country?
TONGE: I think it means a virtual cessation of our overseas trade for the time being, but it's equally necessary I think from the country's point of view that a new wages structure should be provided in the ports and that there should be new working practices for the dock workers, and this is equally important."
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Background: Britain's docks were empty on Wednesday night (15 July) as 46,000 dockers received confirmation that their nationwide strike was officially on, after a breakdown in negotiations between Union representatives and port employers. It's the first official national port strike in Britain since 1926.
Many ports had in fact been idle since Tuesday(14th July) when the strike was originally timed to begin, but a formal decision was delayed in hope of further consideration by the employers. The delay met with strong opposition from many dockers who picketed the entrance to transport House in London where the talks continued.
The dockers are seeking to raise the basic wage rate from GBP 11 to GBP 20 (48 dollars) per week, but the employers have rejected the idea as they believe that with overtime and bonuses it would boost earnings by nearly 50 percent. Instead, they offered a guaranteed minimum wage of GBP 20 (48 dollars) a week whether the dockers work or not.
At the meeting of union delegated the improved offer was discussed, with a plea from leader Jack Jones that it be accepted as a basis for further negotiations. After heated discussion it was rejected by 48 votes to 32.
After the meeting, Union leader Jack Jones and Employers' representative George Tonge were questioned by a reporter.
If Britain should declare a "state of emergency" because of the many harmful effects the strike could have on her economy, then members of the Armed Forces are thought likely to man the docks and keep shipping and supplies on the move.