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Les Warhurst

 

Warhurst was a Hull TGWU dockers’ leader and Hull Communist Party member in the 50s and 60s. Like many other Hull dockers, he joined the Blue Union ( National Amalgamated Stevedores & Dockers Union - NAS&DU established in 1872) during the unofficial Hull dockers "filling strike" of August 1954,  along with all other Communist Party members in the docks. (The colour of the was taken from the colour of the membership card.)

The unofficial strike by 4,000 Dockers at  Hull (and Goole) of August 1954 revolved around filling or scuttling method, this involved dockers standing up to their waist in loose grain in the confined, sweltering hold of a ship, shovelling grain into individual bags using big metal scoops. In 1959, Warhurst was to rejoin the "white" union, the  TGWU, eventually  becoming a full time TGWU official, and finally returning to dock work in the 1970s.

The reason given (By Keith Sinclair) for CP members opting to join the allegedly more radical (certainly more democratic) Blue Union (NAS&DU) at Hull, when the line from the Party centrally was to remain within the TGWU, was said to have been that unlike Liverpool & London Communist dockers they were less "political integrated". It is also likely that the division between the right wing full timers and the dockers, and importantly the dispute itself (scuttling) was more in intense than at other ports.

The NAS&DU finally amalgamated with the TGWU in 1982.

Source: `How the Blue union came to
Hull Docks’ by Keith Sinclair 

 

Michael Walker