Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/966/26268

From The Socialist newspaper, 11 October 2017

Biography: Harry Constable in his own words

Poverty, repression and fightback on the docks

Dockers, by Alain Bertrand/CC

Dockers, by Alain Bertrand/CC   (Click to enlarge)

Bill Mullins, Southwark Socialist Party

This book is about Harry Constable, a leading activist in the struggle of the dock workers from before the war until the end of the 1950s.

It is told through a series of transcribed tapes he made 20 years ago with Bill Hunter, a member of the 'Socialist Labour League' in Liverpool.

Harry Constable was born into an East End family in London in World War One and grew up in poverty and struggle. His father and grandfather had been dockers and Harry became one after World War Two when he left the army.

His tale is one of obviously heroic struggle against not only the employers but often against the right-wing leaders of his own union, the Transport and General Workers' Union (TGWU - one of the main forerunners of Unite).

Harry, along with other left-wing dockers, was instrumental in setting up what became the unofficial dock workers' strike committees. They organised national strikes against the employers because too often the right wing in the union refused to take action.

Strike

At one stage the union expelled him - which under the system at the time meant he could not be a registered docker and was not entitled to work. The other dockers waiting in the "pens," the holding areas where they were called by the foreman to work, refused to "come out" until Harry was given work.

The book explains how the docks became organised over a number of years that led to many strikes, sometimes local and sometimes national, all led by the unofficial dockers' committees.

In 1951, Clement Attlee's Labour government ordered the arrest of Harry, along with other unofficial leaders, for calling a strike in contravention of 'Order 1305'. This was part of the undemocratic government regulations set under emergency wartime powers, and forbade strike action.

This led to a national strike of 45,000 dockers. The Labour government's answer was to send in 22,000 soldiers to do their jobs (which they couldn't).

At the subsequent Old Bailey trial the unofficial leaders, including Harry, were acquitted.

Harry went through many experiences including the 1926 general strike and the battle of Cable Street against Oswald Mosley's fascist Blackshirts.

All in all the book is well worth reading to give the modern generation of class fighters an idea of the rich history of class struggle in the docks.

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.


In The Socialist 11 October 2017:


Socialist Party news and analysis

Nasty party imploding...drive out the Tories

Major attacks 'Universal Credit', half a million more face poverty

IMF helps cause inequality it slams

NHS meltdown - fight the Tory cuts

Them & Us


Catalonia

Catalonia: Workers can finish what Puigdemont won't


Black History Month 2017

The fight against racial discrimination is tied to the fight to defeat capitalist austerity


Socialist Party workplace news

Royal Mail workers fight court attempt to stop national strike

Boeing bust-up threatens thousands of skilled jobs

Who's watching who?: The fight for justice, trade union and democratic rights

Workplace news in brief


Housing crisis

Housing crisis: Corbyn's positive measures blanked by Labour's right

No more fire deaths - ensure safety now!


Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Don't wreck our rec! Campaigning to save green space in Standish

Carlisle NHS campaigners hand in petition to MP

Cardiff Socialist Students confront 'Parasite' Jacob Rees-Mogg

Manchester rally discussed unionisation and nationalisation

Join the Orgreave Halloween rally

Too much to cross the Mersey


Comment and reviews

Poverty, repression and fightback on the docks

Theresa May, Frida Kahlo and turning women into wares

Shocking insight into Isis

The Socialist Inbox


 

Home   |   The Socialist 11 October 2017   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate   |   Audio  |   PDF  |   ebook






Related links:

Docks:

triangleWorkplace news in brief

triangle11-day strike at Tilbury docks

triangle48-hour stoppage at Tilbury docks

triangleSouthampton demonstration: End exploitation of seafarers

triangleDover docks strikes

Poverty:

triangleNasty party imploding...drive out the Tories

triangleMajor attacks 'Universal Credit', half a million more face poverty

triangleOne in four teenage girls depressed - crisis made worse by cuts

triangleFight for an alternative to the misery of capitalism

Strike:

triangleArriva North West bus drivers strike over pay

triangleRoyal Mail bosses block strike - back postal workers

triangleUnite local government sector plans strike ballot

Dockers:

triangleLiverpool dockers and drivers protest "appalling lack of facilities"

Union:

triangleConference on state spies: who's watching who?

TGWU:

triangleReview: 'On the Track' by Bill Mullins

1926 general strike:

triangleManchester & Trafford Socialist Party: 1926 General Strike - 90 years on

Reviews and comments

Reviews and comments

18/10/17

Port Talbot

Powerful picture of the Port Talbot steel workers' struggle

18/10/17

Russian revolution

October 1917 reviews: 'More bright than any heaven'

11/10/17

Theresa May

Theresa May, Frida Kahlo and turning women into wares

11/10/17

Docks

Poverty, repression and fightback on the docks

11/10/17

The Socialist

The Socialist Inbox

11/10/17

TV

Shocking insight into Isis

2/10/17

Sexism

Hugh Hefner's exploitation of women

27/9/17

Football

Women's football - Sampson allegations

20/9/17

Letters

The Socialist Inbox

20/9/17

Socialist

Interview: the "socialist John Le Carré"

20/9/17

Women

Refreshing, anticapitalist - but little pointing a way forward

13/9/17

Women

New documentary asks women how their bodies are sexualised and policed

13/9/17

Letters

The Socialist inbox

13/9/17

Che Guevara

Intimate insight into a revolutionary icon

6/9/17

Pensions

Bosses' pensions robbery

triangleMore Reviews and comments articles...


Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party

triangle19 Oct Arriva North West bus drivers strike over pay

triangle18 Oct Russia, October 1917: When workers took power

triangle18 Oct Tories torn - bin them now

triangle18 Oct Royal Mail bosses block strike - back postal workers

triangle18 Oct Balloting members on the pay cap

triangle13 Oct The end of the Tories?

triangle11 Oct Nasty party imploding...drive out the Tories

More ...

triangle21 Oct Birmingham: NSSN Solidarity Forum

triangle23 Oct Chesterfield Socialist Party: The continuing struggle for abortion rights

triangle24 Oct Liverpool Socialist Party: The October Russian Revolution 100 years ago to the day

triangle25 Oct Salford Socialist Party: The October 1917 Russian revolution

More ...

Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

Archive

Archives:

October 2017

September 2017

August 2017

July 2017

June 2017

May 2017

April 2017

March 2017

February 2017

January 2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999

Legal

SP RSS feed RSS

Platform setting: = No platform choice

V2