27 Feb 1951: Lest we forget

On 27 February 1951 the government deployed the army onto the wharves in an attempt to break a union.

My summary of the Waterfront Dispute: the workers took action as part of a pay dispute by refusing to work over Finn, the ports locked them out, the government declared a state of emergency, rolled in the army and put in draconian regulations that, amongst other things, made it illegal to give food to the children of locked out wharfies.

Today I’m thinking of three things

  1. The courage of the wharfies and their families
  2. The strength and kindness of everyone who broke the law to make sure they had food and shelter
  3. That the “reforms” of the 80s and 90s broke the unions in a way the army never could.

What do we need to do to return power to workers?

The documentary produced for the strike’s 50th anniversary is available here, thanks IrishBill.