THIS WEEK [ITV/Rediffusion, 1956-68]: LONDON DOCKERS
DOCUMENTARY. The docks industry and the pay and working conditions of the dockers, focusing on the Royal Albert Dock, London. No main title. Ship in dock (9). Dockers walking to work. Voice-over states this is November 1964 (21). Dockers standing outside dockside buildings; one sign reads `J. Kirkaldy & Son, Painting, Plumbing, Polishing Contractors', pan to another building, sign reads `Scrutons Ltd'. Voice-over states the conditions are more like 1864; the dockers don't know if they will get work that day. Dockers crowding around and selling their labour on the `stones' (the cobbled entrance to the Royal Albert Dock) to the highest bidder on the `free call' system. Voice-over states that the system is more like `an oriental bazaar than a modern industry'(59). Dockers milling about on dockside. Voice-over explains that now all dockers must be registered so employers can't flood the labour market. A minimum wage, recently raised to £9pw, is guaranteed when no work is available. A second call will be given in one hour (87). Large room in offices of the National Docks Labour Board. Men mingling, waiting for the second call. Voice-over states that the minimum wages is forfeited if the docker doesn't accept any job offered (128). A docker comments that his work is tough and hard and has changed little since the 1800s. There are now larger ships, more machinery, and some automation but the work remains essentially the same (173). Asked what he thinks about the `free call' system he replies that it is a democratic right which men fought wars for. He states that he does sweeping and checking jobs but no heavy manual work because of poor breathing. CU of the dockers hands showing `bull sinews'. He says that over 50% of dockers who have been in the industry for several years suffer from hernias, strained arms, punctured livers and chest troubles (341). Dockside; cargo being hoisted on board. Reporter states that he is impressed by a dockers' loyalty to himself but they lack any loyalty to the industry. He feels the industry should abolish the `primitive ' methods of employing casual labour but many men cling stubbornly to the `present anarchy'. He argues that the dockers' work is physically demanding and skilled. Some men take home £35 on a good week, but then the next there may be no work (427). Dockers talk of the physical discomforts and lack of amenities but explain why they like the work - the camaraderie and outdoor life it offers (592). Against shots of cargo handling the voice-over states that union officials have to be brought in daily to intervene in disputes over rates of pay in an industry where men are paid solely on piece work. Small group of union officials in discussion (663). Docker addressing an outdoor meeting with a microphone. Over his speech the voice-over says that such men, who incite the workers to unoffical strikes, are `rebel rousers' and `agitators' who undermine the union negotiations (694). A union offical says there is now less need to strike because employers are more open to discussion and negotiation (799). The docker addressing the meeting, men crowded around him (819). A docker says he doesn't want to strike, nobody does, and he can't afford to, but if anything is to be done withholding labour can be the only solution. Voice-over says that the strike planned for next week has been called off and new pay scales agreed (871). Selwyn Lloyd, Leader of the House of Commons is interviewed. He is asked if the employers are to blame for the ill-feeling in the docks. Lloyd replies that there have been problems in the past but the industry must now look forward to mechanisation, security and efficiency. Asked how he can engender loyalty to the industry in the workers he says the `free call' system should be abolished. He speaks of a scheme, agreed with the TGWU, to employ permanent tally clerks to check the quality and nature of the cargoes being handled. Lloyd agrees that it is difficult to abolish casual labour with so many employers but a gradual reduction is needed. He accepts amenities are poor, symptomatic of the state of the industry. He believes a good deal of the docks are efficient but acknowledges serious problems in London and the bottlenecks to exports. He wants to see a shift system devised which makes better use of equipment and agrees that britain is not getting maximum value from the industry (1154fft).