The 1890 Southampton Dock Strike
took place in Southampton
, September, 1890.
The closing years of the 1880s saw a resurgence of trade unionism
amongst merchant seamen, dockers and other unskilled workers. A notable victory was scored by London dockers during the famous London dock strike
in 1889, in which the dockers were able to win a rate of 6d, known colloquially as the 'dockers' tanner'. Later that year, a branch of the Dockers' Union
was formed in Southampton. In part this was an effort by the union to prevent Southampton men being used to break strikes in London
, as had occurred on a limited basis during the 1889 strike. However, as the local branch grew, pressure mounted to improve wages in Southampton itself and to win the dockers' tanner for Southampton men.
Towards the end of August, the Southampton Dock Company and the various shipping firms agreed to grant wage increases of 1d an hour. However, the Royal Mail Steampacket Company
, which paid lower rates than the other principal firms, refused to bring its rates into line with the other companies. All of the employers, meanwhile, refused to grant official recognition to the Dockers' Union and the National Union of Seamen
. Because of these two issues, a strike was declared on 7 September. Unlike the London Dock Strike, the strike in Southampton was marked by a certain amount of public disorder. Blacklegs arriving at the railway station were attacked and large crowds gathered daily in the streets around the... Read More