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Ben Tillett of the Dockers Union.

Ben Tillett of the Dockers Union.
Ben Tillett of the Dockers Union.
© National Maritime Museum, London
Repro ID: H5144
Description: Ben Tillett (1859-1943) was born in Bristol. After being invalided out of the navy he found work in the London Docks, eventually becoming a tea cooper at the Monument Tea Warehouse. Tillet joined the Tea Operatives & General Labourers' Association. He was very vocal at meetings and in 1887 he was elected to the post of General Secretary. The following year Tillett led a strike at Tilbury Dock. The workers were defeated and Tillett became so depressed that he considered leaving the union. In 1889 Tillet's union members became involved in the London Dock Strike. The dockers demanded four hours continuous work at a time and a minimum rate of sixpence (2.5p) an hour. Tillet soon emerged as one of the three main leaders of the strike. After five weeks the employers accepted defeat and granted all the dockers' main demands. After the successful strike, the dockers formed a new General Labourers' Union. Tillett was elected General Secretary. Tillett was now one of England's leading socialists, and later became one of the founders of the Labour Party. In September 1910 Tillett helped to establish the National Transport Workers' Federation, an organisation of 250,000 workers.
Creator: Unknown
Date: c. 1889
Credit line: People's History Museum, Manchester
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