Liverpool dockers on strike win support from near and far, reports Tayo Aluko
With a full 92 percent of the dock workers at Liverpool Port voting in favour of strike action, the large turnout of pickets at the two Port of Liverpool gates was never in doubt. Spirits were high, and the legendary scouse humour in full flow. I witnessed a policeman politely ask a docker to refrain from walking onto the carriageway to stop trailer drivers in an attempt to speak to them about the strike, saying, 'If you get splattered, it’s on us, innit?' The docker, quick as a flash retorted, 'Well, it’ll be one less gingerhead to worry about, won’t it?' The docker and policeman each sported a fine ginger beard, and they laughed together.
That was at the main gate, where the picket line was swelled with dozens of well-wishers – local activists, members of other unions, and some of the Liverpool Community Independent Councillors, a breakaway group from Labour. From the platform, one of them lamented the total silence of the Labour Party, who, she said, couldn’t get their sh*t together to back the unions. Kim Johnson, Riverside MP for Labour, showed herself to be one of the few with a bit of backbone by showing up and speaking in solidarity with the workers, and criticising their leadership.
Also there to join the picket line and deliver messages of solidarity were dock workers from Spain, Denmark, Sweden and France. The Spanish representative announced to a large cheer that her comrades in Barcelona had decided not to work Liverpool-bound vessels.
Down the road at the smaller gate, the picket was also strong, and even more effective in making its presence felt beyond the port. The road layout was such that by stopping the vast majority of drivers to spend a little time explaining their action, the dockers were able to cause considerable traffic delays for a number of miles from the port gate. That notwithstanding, public support was unmistakable at both sites, from the constant hooting of horns as vehicles drove past. A successful first day will be boosted by the arrival of Sharon Graham, Unite’s General Secretary on Wednesday, and discussions will no doubt be held about a possible escalation over the projected two weeks.
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