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    Labour relations and the demise of London's Upper Docks 1940-1981

    Barram, Michael (2020) Labour relations and the demise of London's Upper Docks 1940-1981. PhD thesis, Birkbeck, University of London.

    Thesis Final April 2020.pdf - Full Version

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    This thesis takes advantage of the greater volume of archive material now available about dock labour and the Port of London which, combined with other published materials, allows for a more holistic appreciation of industrial relations in the port in the four decades after 1940, leading up to the final closure of the Upper Docks in 1980-81. The historical context is established by a review of the earlier published materials, and consideration of the genesis of the Port of London Authority (PLA) with the structural and financial constraints of its formation. The social and economic environment of the docks workforce are exemplified by considering two London boroughs as representative of the wider docklands communities. The impact of the second World War on the port and the communities is reviewed in terms of both enemy action and the effect of UK legislation leading to a statutory dock labour scheme. This is followed by a systematic review of strikes in the fifteen years after the War, in which a wider appreciation of industrial relations problems is developed. That encompasses the interactions between the workforce and employers, the complex structures for pay and conditions, the advantages and operational problems of the 1947 National Dock Labour Scheme, the involvement of the Government through official inquiries and ministerial pressure, and the role of trade unions and ‘unofficial’ activists. The final chapters consider the impact of technological and structural changes in 1960-1981, with the formation of the National Ports Council and the implementation of decasualisation - seen to have a secondary effect of inhibiting effective workforce reductions. The growth of containerisation impacted on the Upper Docks by reducing conventional traffic and through collateral industrial disputes, but behind both of these the financial weaknesses of the PLA’s funding arrangements meant that the docks were not economically viable.


    Item Type: Thesis
    Copyright Holders: The copyright of this thesis rests with the author, who asserts his/her right to be known as such according to the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988. No dealing with the thesis contrary to the copyright or moral rights of the author is permitted.
    Depositing User: Acquisitions And Metadata
    Date Deposited: 24 Sep 2021 15:21
    Last Modified: 01 Nov 2023 14:49


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