Liverpool dockers' strike

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The Liverpool Dockers' Strike lasted from twenty eight months between 1995 and 1998. Although referred to as a strike it was strictly a dispute because the employers, the MDHC (Mersey Docks and Harbour Company) had actually used the opportunity to sack the dockers who were caught up in a separate dispute.


The Liverpool dockers refused to cross a picket line set up in support of a group of fellow dockers working for Torside. [1] That was on 29 September 1995, and they were sacked by their employers. Some dockers were offered new contracts but all contracts were subject to alteration by the MDHC, so the dispute began. Over the next two and a half years the dockers waged a very high-profile public campaign for their reinstatement, and allied themselves with dockers worldwide and support groups such as Reclaim the Streets. The strike failed in its declared objectives, but was very successful in providing a modern example of strong Social Movement Unionism in the United Kingdom[citation needed]. A T-shirt was designed to show support for the dockers incorporating the Calvin Klein 'CK' into the word docker.[2] The T-shirt was worn by many celebrities but most famously by Robbie Fowler during a goal celebration while playing for Liverpool.[3]

The dispute went on to be one of the longest in British industrial relations history[citation needed]. It was in February 1998 that the dockers finally accepted a settlement[citation needed].

After the dispute some of the dockers bought the Casa Bar on Hope St. in Liverpool town centre.[4]

In popular culture[edit]

British director Ken Loach made a documentary about the strike, The Flickering Flame, in 1996.[5]

A group of sacked dockers themselves wrote the script for a film about their experiences, Dockers, with the help of well-known Liverpool writer Jimmy McGovern and the author Irvine Welsh, which was broadcast by Channel 4 in 1999.

Chumbawamba song "One by One" obliquely references the strikes, being released on the album Tubthumping in 1998.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Liverpool docks dispute 20 years on: Part One - How dockers paid with their jobs for refusing to cross a picket line". Liverpool Echo. 20 September 2015. Retrieved 12 September 2017. 
  2. ^ Image of CK t-shirt
  3. ^ "Football: Fowler fined for show of support". The Independent. 28 March 1997. Retrieved 12 September 2017. 
  4. ^ Liverpool Daily Post bar review
  5. ^ Milne, Seumas (19 December 1996). "TV review: Loach keeps the fires burning". The Guardian. Manchester. p. 2. 

Further reading[edit]

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