Labour unrest in the port after 1889
|‘Oh God, strike Lord Devonport dead’|
The 1911 strike
Harry Gosling of the Amalgamated Society of Waterman & Lighterman was elected president. The new union immediately approached the Port of London Authority (PLA) for:
Elsewhere in Britain, other branches of the NTWF went on strike in what soon became a national dispute.
Lord Devonport, the Chairman of the PLA, consulted the dock employers, wharfingers and shipowners. He offered:
The cost to the employers would have been £200,000 a year. But the union, who had won no meaningful improvements since 1889, rejected it.
The employers resist
Devonport refused to negotiate and publicly declared that he would starve the men back to work.
Ben Tillett led a mass meeting of dockers on Tower Hill in a prayer: ‘Oh God, strike Lord Devonport dead’.
After a two-week strike the dockers were forced to return to work on Devonport’s terms.