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Stallard was the leader of the Southampton dockers in the 1950s and 1960s and a member of the TGWU and a member of the Communist Party, along with other leading dockers at
He first went to work in
He joined the Communist Party when it was reformed in
Fred Thompson of the Transport Workers’ Minority Movement and
The Reception Committee raised money from and gained the assistance of the Labour Party, trade unions and sympathetic individuals as well as gifts of provisions from local shops and traders. The Reception Committee met the marchers on Millbrook Road and marched with them up Commercial Road to the Morris Hall where they were fed and put up for the night.
In this early period the Party town branch organised a Friends of the
In the summer, of 1932, the International Anti-War Congress sponsored by Henri Barbusse, Maxim Gorky and Romain Rolland was held in
As with the FSU, the town Party branch started to organise the local National Unemployed Workers’ Movement, Wally Cooper and Fred New doing most of the work, assisted by John Gibbons, a full time Party worker whom Southampton shared with Portsmouth. Initially the organisation made little headway, the transient nature of the unemployed in the area probably accounting for that. Dockers, shipyard workers and seamen could all be unemployed one day and employed the next.
The Southampton Unemployed Workers’ Committee was active in organising meetings outside Labour Exchanges with national speakers like Sid Elias and E Llewellyn and creating steady sales of the Daily Worker. John Gibbons with Ted Daly, Reg Case, Fred Prinn, A MacDonald, B McKeeret and F Fippard were active in organising deputations to the town council; demonstrations to local Task Work Centres and ensuring the unemployed had NUWM representation at hearings of the Unemployment Assistance Board. The Unemployed Workers’ Committee organised contingents from the area on three occasions to march to
Southampton Communists also organised their own mass march from Southampton to Eastleigh, which local dockers supported under the slogan ‘We Want Bread’.
Trevor Stallard’s recollections were that the Communists active in the docks became the acknowledged leaders of the dockers perhaps partly since union organisation was somewhat restricted, with there being only half a dozen shop stewards. Although the Southern Railway owned the docks, there were numerous companies inside who actually employed the stevedores.
Party activists were prominent throughout the 1930s fighting against reduced manning, victimisation, overloading and for better wages and conditions. Trevor also held many a dock gate meeting with Tom Mann. The role of Communists as unofficial spokesmen became crystallized in 1939 when Trevor Stallard was elected to the T&G Biennial Delegate Conference.
Communist dockers in
The Party cell was engaged in activity against fascism and was instrumental in organising 6,000 people when Oswald Mosley arrived in
The ‘Hands Off
The Duchess of Richmond incident stands out where, following the invasion of
Trevor was deeply involved with the Haruna Maru campaign (see Arthur Clegg entry), when dockers throughout
It was a result of the blacking of the Duchess of Richmond that Trevor and two other Party dockers were sacked in 1938 by the Southern Railway (they held preference tallies) and no other stevedoring firms would take them on. Trevor believed that this was done in collusion with the full time officials as they (the officials) periodically reviewed the tallies and after twelve years Trevor, and his two comrades, were found to be unsatisfactory workers.
The local press never gave the incident a large amount of coverage but one paragraph was perhaps pertinent: “An embargo against the handling of Japanese goods has been declared by
The next edition of the paper reported how the union officials had responded: “The action of the
Stallard was actually sacked in February 1938 after the refusal to unload the Berengaria and only re-employed in 1939. His most treasured possession was a thank you letter from the Chines embassy.
When the Molotov-Ribbentrov Non Aggression Pact was signed. Trevor felt this led to a slight decline in the Party’s influence in the docks, but only one of the ten Party members in the workplace branch left the Party over it.
When the War started in 1939 and Southampton Docks closed as a commercial port Trevor moved to Coventry, first to the Daimler works where he was chairman of the shops stewards’ committee and later to the Standard II works where he became convenor of shop stewards. The aspect of
Shortly after the War ended, the Docks Party Branch, which had been suspended during the wartime closure, was re-established as the Party Stevedores’ Branch. By 1948, Trevor was on the T&G District Committee and then the union’s national Executive. Deakin tried to expel him because, when addressing a meeting of Liverpool dockers, Trevor told them which way individual EC members had voted over the acceptance of
When Communists were proscribed from holding office in the T&G, Trevor was removed from all committees but, the Southampton dockers refused to let Trevor and two other Party members, John Bonnin and Bill Taylor, be forced off the shop stewards’ committee, and they were even backed by the local officials. The port employers initially refused to recognise the Committee with Communist Party members on it but, since they wouldn’t meet them without Trevor and the others, they were forced to accept the situation.
Decasualisation was the most important post-war issue facing the dockers. Even when the ownership of the docks was nationalised, the operators were still private, employing labour on a casual basis. In Southampton, two union officials were seconded to ensure the work was shared out on an equal basis and to this end they managed to secure a limited right to disclosure of information from the employers. One of the union’s aims was to reduce the number of port employers, which by 1948 had been brought down to three at
Trevor later went on to represent
Sources: Michael Walker; Adrian Weir, `The Minority Movement and After: a South Hants Perspective’, Our History, New Series No 6, July 2007