Humberside

BBC finds unseen footage of Goole dockers in the 1980s

Previously unseen footage of a historic moment in industrial history has been uncovered as part of a new BBC Look North project about the Humber Docks.

The amateur footage from spring 1989 shows Goole dock workers picking up compensation cheques.

The pay-out came after the abolition of the National Dock Labour Board (NDLB).

The workers were involved in a long-running industrial dispute as the government of Margaret Thatcher sought to remove union control of the docks.

The National Dock Labour Board, which had operated since the end of World War II, had guaranteed jobs and wages for decades, but was increasingly seen by the government of the day as a bar to UK ports modernising.

Long-serving workers who signed away their trades union rights received up to £35,000, but many also found they had signed away any job security.

By the following year there were fewer than 10,000 dock workers, down from the peak in the 1960s of 65,000, yet traffic through UK ports had doubled.

'Job for life'

Pete Duffy, who can be seen in the film receiving his final cheque, continued to work at the docks after the union was broken up.

He firstly worked for Associated British Ports (ABP), and later for an independent company providing dockers to the port.

Mr Duffy said: "When I started work on the docks in 1966, they were the centre of the town both for people's working and social lives.

"There was much more loading of cargo for export then, now it's just unloading. Dockers had a job for life but that all ended with the abolition of the National Dock Labour Board."

Managers at the port claimed that the abolition of the NDLB was the only way for Goole Docks to survive.

Colin Silvester was the manager for Associated British Ports in Goole at the time.

He said: "In the 10 years after the end of the National Dock Labour Board, the amount of cargo moving through Goole increased from 1m tonnes to 2.5m tonnes.

"It also enabled ABP to invest millions into the port to modernise it."

The film of Goole docks was found as part of the Look North project examining the importance of the Humber docks to the region.

An appeal for films, photos or memories has begun. People can e-mail looknorth@bbc.co.uk text 81333 starting messages with the words "look north" or ring (01482) 314406.

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