22 June 2021

Bristol dockers strike of 1949 in support of Canadian Seaman

The 1949 Docks Strike involving Bristol dockers was notable as an international solidarity action in support of strike action by the Canadian Seamen’s Union.

Canadian employers had used ‘scab crews’ to load ships. One of these, the SS Gulfside, had remained strike bound in Avonmouth from 1st April. A second ship, the SS Montreal City arrived with a cargo of tomatoes and bananas.

As tugmen and dockers refused to work the so called ‘blacked’ ships, the Labour Government brought in troops to unload the Montreal City. They used the argument that there was perishable food, at a time of food shortage. This argument was exposed, however, when they planned to use troops to load cars for the return journey across the Atlantic.

This talk considers the nature of solidarity between dockers across nations and continents, how this unfolded in Bristol and the effect the strike had on the supposedly pro-Union Labour Government.

Speaker: Di Parkin

Di Parkin is a member of Bristol Radical History Group and co-author of 100 Fishponds Road: life and death in a Victorian workhouse. Her PhD on Nation, Class and Gender in Second World War Britain, covered the wartime docks’ strikes. She has also written on attitudes to Oswald  Mosely and Churchill.

This talk is part of M Shed’s 10th anniversary programme.

How to take part

This free, online talk will be held over Zoom. Please book your place below. Details of how to join the session will be in your registration email. Please check your spam folder if the email does not arrive. Bookings close at 11am on Tuesday 22 June.

Although this talk is free, we would be grateful if you could consider making a donation.

Please visit the Zoom website for guidance on joining webinar. Please allow extra time before the talk begins to make sure everything is working correctly. It’s up to you whether you turn on your video but all guests will be muted once the talk begins. You are welcome to ask questions in the chat box throughout the talk.