May 16, 2016



Shipping union RMT will be officially launching a new booklet – “TURNING THE TIDE” – marking the fiftieth anniversary of the 1966 seamen’s strike at the union’s biennial shipping general meeting in Dover today – Thursday 12th May.


There will be a press call and photo opportunity with delegates and visitors to the BGM at:


One pm – Thursday 12th May

RMT Dover Office

48 Snargate Street

Dover CT17 9BZ


Turning the Tide is a pamphlet specially commissioned by RMT to mark the 50th anniversary of the 1966 seamen’s strike and to ensure that a new generation of trade unionists can understand the background of this important dispute and learn the lessons from it that resonate with our work today.


The pamphlet has been written by former NUS staff member Jim Jump and starts by setting out the background to the dispute in the run up to 1966 and taking us right back to the early days of trade union organisation in the shipping industry at the end of the 19th century.


Extraordinary pictures have been sourced of the pivotal strike in the Port of Liverpool in 1911 which show thousands of workers and their supporters out on the streets of the City as part of a national six weeks of action which forced the dropping of the employers anti-union pledge and paved the way for national wage rates and the closed shop.


The pamphlet pulls no punches – taking readers through the dark days when the NUS refused to support the general strike, was thrown out of the TUC and didn’t return until the 1930’s by which time the depression was hammering jobs and wages throughout the industry. A “top down” approach remained in the union and it was left to local militants to fight wildcat actions with some jailed just after the second world war.


It was these industrial militants who were the backbone of the rank and file movement as the clock ticked down towards 1966.


RMT General Secretary Mick Cash said:


“Turning the Tide” sets out a unique background to the looming dispute and a handy time-line through the forty seven days in 1966 that quite literally shook the country to its very foundations.


“With archive shots of “The Seaman”, and a rich use of contemporary pictures, this pamphlet will be seen in the future as an important educational and historical resource. It will be invaluable to anyone studying the industrial battles of the sixties and seventies.”


RMT National Secretary Steve Todd added:


“The publication explores the political climate at the time of the dispute and homes in on biographies of some of the “politically motivated men” named by Harold Wilson in his infamous quote.


“It also brings us bang up to date, explaining how the struggles for workplace justice that led to the 1966 strike are mirrored in the battles that RMT is engaged in across the shipping industry today.”


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