The Great Dock Strike of 1889
|The strike spreads|
A general strike?
Other workers followed the lead of the stevedores, including the seamen, firemen, lightermen, watermen, ropemakers, fish porters and carmen. Strikes broke out daily in factories and workshops throughout the East End.
The port was paralyzed by what was in effect a general strike. It was estimated that by 27 August 130,000 men were on strike.
An eye-witness account
One newspaper reported:
Evening News & Post, 26 August 1889.
The strike committee
The dockers formed a strike committee to organize the dispute and decide on its aims. As well as Tillett, Tom Man (1856-1941) and John Burns (1858-1943) were important members of the committee.
The main strike demand was 'the dockers' tanner' - a wage of 6d. an hour (instead of their previous 5d. an hour) and an overtime rate of 8d. per hour.
They also wanted the contract and 'plus' systems to be abolished and 'call-ons' to be reduced to two a day. They also demanded that they be taken on for minimum periods of four hours and that their union be recognized throughout the port.
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