Iain Dale said:In September 1987 I was on holiday in Michigan when I decided to buy a copy of The Times. I had just finished a two year stint as a researcher in the House of Commons and needed to find a new job. Quick. I saw an advert for the position as Public Affairs Manager for the British Ports Association & National Association of Port Employers. In those days, lobbying was in its infancy and to be honest I wasnt sure what the job would really entail. Anyway, I spent an hour in the University of Michigan library in Ann Arbor (which remains one of my favourite towns in the world) touching up my CV and constructing a letter of application.
A month later, I had beaten 200 other applicants for the job and started work in a rather dingy office in New Oxford Street. While preparing for interviews, virtually everyone I spoke to said, ah, youll be trying to persuade the government to get rid of the Dock Labour Scheme. Dock Labour Scheme? What the hell was that? It certainly didnt sound very exciting. I started researching it and was horrified by what I found. It was a piece of employment legislation which gave registered dock workers privileges other workers could only dream of. They had a guaranteed job for life, it was impossible to sack them, when they retired their jobs automatically passed to their sons and they were paid at rates other workers (and indeed dock workers in non scheme ports) could only dream of. Spanish practices were rife and if a port closed down, dockers were transferred to the nearest port even if it was run by a different company and there was no need for them.
Interesting post above. If what Iain says is true, how did the docks come to have such generous working conditions compared to, say, the railways which were still nationalised at the same time?