‘Scabs Out. Dockers In’: Mass Trespass at MTL shows strength of support for striking workers


Several hundred protestors chanting ‘Scabs out. Dockers In’ engaged in a mass trespass on the premises of Marine Terminals Ltd. in Dublin’s docklands yesterday morning (24th August).

The protestors were showing their solidarity with MTL strikers who have been on the picketline since early July in protest at forced redundancies and attacks on pay and conditions. Since early in the dispute, the company has engaged in bullying tactics designed to break the resolve of the strikers and their supporters. Yesterday’s protest march attended by over 600 people showed that that resolve is if anything strengthened.
(See http://www.wsm.ie/news_viewer/5879 for account of previous support march)

Speaking at a rally outside the gates of MTL, the strikers’ shop steward John Walsh referred to the fact that at a recent supposed negotiation meeting, Peel Ports (owners of MTL) management had objected to the workers’ side bringing one more union rep with them to the talks on the grounds that they would have too many people at their side of the table. “Look how many people we have on our side of the table now,” he challenged the management while reminding them that when they eventually come to the negotiating table the fighting spirit of all their supporters will be on the side of the workers.

Fighting spirit and solidarity
This dispute has indeed awakened a tremendous fighting spirit in the local communities of North Wall/East Wall and Ringsend/Irishtown as is evident from the numbers of local people present yesterday and from the numbers who have offered solidarity to the strikers over the past number of weeks. It has also awakened a sense of solidarity among trade unionists all over Dublin and much further afield as was seen by the huge numbers of trade union banners present.

That much-needed solidarity was best encapsulated by a speaker representing Dutch port workers (sorry I didn’t get his name) who announced that port workers in Rotterdam were engaged in an occupation of the offices of BG Freight (a subsidiary of MTL) in support of their striking Dublin comrades. This great news was followed by Ken Fleming of the International Transport Workers’ Federation who pledged that the trade union movement internationally would work to ensure that ships being loaded by scabs in Dublin would not be welcome in any other port.

This is the sort of solidarity that the trade union movement internationally needs to build on. At a national and local level (as was pointed out by Ken Fleming), we need to try to find out where the goods being unloaded by the scabs are ending up. When they leave the MTL yard what factories, shops or elsewhere are these trucks heading for? If that information can be found out, the workers in those workplaces can be asked to refuse to handle goods unloaded by scabs.

Not alone
Following yesterday’s march and speeches, a considerable number of the crowd (more than half by my reckoning) engaged in a mass trespass on the MTL site. They delivered, in a calm and peaceful manner, a very strong message to the company and to the scabs who are taking the jobs of the strikers. That message was – These strikers are not alone. Their communities and their trade union comrades are standing by them and we will not allow you to bully them.