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1924 Cabinet conclusion on a dock strike

Cabinet Conclusion 12 February 1924. The Dock Dispute
Cabinet Conclusion 12 February 1924. The Dock Dispute
CAB 23/47             C 12 (24) 4

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Cabinet Conclusion 21 February 1924. The Dock Dispute
Cabinet Conclusion 21 February 1924. The Dock Dispute
CAB 23/47             C 16 (24) 2

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These two extracts show the Cabinet was involved in trying to resolve a dock strike in 1924. Working conditions for dockers were generally very poor. They were usually employed on a casual basis, day by day and had little job security. There was often competition between gangs of dockers, which could sometimes break into violence. In Liverpool, for example, there were teams of Scottish, Irish, Welsh and Manx dockers. Employers could use the rivalry between them to keep wages low. A strike was called in February 1924 when relations between unions and employers reached breaking point.

Questions to consider

  1. What event is being described here?
  2. What measures did the Minister of Labour take on 12 February 1924?
  3. How had the situation improved by 21 February 1924?
  4. Was the strike definitely over by this date?
  5. What role did the union play in the process?
  6. Does this source represent proof that the government listened to the Transport and General Workers Union or simply that the government wanted the docks working properly again?



4. The Minister of Labour informed the Cabinet that, following the breakdown of direct negotiations between the parties concerned in the dock dispute, he had invited a joint meeting of employers and employed to take place at the Ministry of Labour at 2-30 the same day. He proposed to open the meeting with a few words, after which everything would be done to explore the possibilities of a settlement.


2. The Minister of Labour made a full statement to the Cabinet as to the circumstances in which the Dock Dispute had been brought within sight of an immediate settlement, and of the terms on which it was hoped that a settlement would be reached. These terms included an increase to the wages of workers of 1/-s a day at once, and a second 1/- on the first Monday in June, the remission of the question of decasualisation to a Committee of representatives of employers and workers, with a Chairman nominated by the Minister of Labour, and were accompanied by a statement on the part of the representatives of both employers and employed that it was intended to be a real settlement in the industry. It only remained for the representatives of the <<Transport and General Workers' Union>>, who had their Executive Committee behind them, to consult their Delegate Meeting, and the results of that consultation ought to be known by 7 o'clock the same evening.

The Cabinet were also informed that the dockers at Plymouth had declined to handle the mails that morning.

The Cabinet agreed -

  1. To place on record their cordial congratulations to the Minister of Labour for his important share in the favourable turn in the situation:
  2. That the Prime Minister, in reply to a Private Notice Question, should make a statement to the House of Commons to the effect that the representatives of both sides had agreed to terms which the Union spokesmen had decided to put before their Delegate Meeting that evening with a recommendation in favour of agreement; that the Minister of Labour hoped to be able to communicate the terms of the agreement before the House rose that evening; that if this hope was fulfilled, work would be resumed at some of the ports tomorrow, and that, in the circumstances, the Government did not propose to put into operation any of the machinery it had been prepared to set up to secure a food supply to the public:

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