Britain was tonight (Monday) threatened by a general strike. The cause of nationwide labour unrest?
Britain was tonight (Monday) threatened by a general strike. The cause of nationwide labour unrest was the jailing of five rebellious dockers under the controversial Industrial Relations Act -- aimed at preventing industrial unrest.
During the day, all of Britain's major ports were brought to a standstill as 40,000 dockworkers walked out in a gesture of unanimous protest. The feeling of unrest snowballed. Printers walked out in Fleet Street and national newspapers were not printed. Miners and car workers went on strike.
Militant trade union leaders at once called for a general strike -- the last one in Britain was in 1962. But a policy-making committee of the national Trades Union Congress (TUC) met in London and rejected a general strike proposal. However, the idea will be considered again next Wednesday when the TUC's General Council meets.
The militants were out in force today picketing Pentonville Prison, where the five dockers are in custody, and the TUC meeting. They want to force a showdown with the Conservative Government, ensuring the release of the jailed dockers and the repeal -- or suspension -- of the Industrial Relations Act.
The five dockers were ordered to jail at the weekend for contempt of the Industrial Relations Court. They had defied orders to stop picketing new container depots, where simplified cargo-handling techniques had been introduced.