THROUGH THE ARCHIVES: Threatened strike of Londonderry quay labourers

From the News Letter, November 11, 1884

Wednesday, 11th November 2020, 6:00 am
A ship called Hercules at the Londonderry docks. Picture: Londonderry Sentinel archives
A ship called Hercules at the Londonderry docks. Picture: Londonderry Sentinel archives

A long pending quarrel between the port and harbour commissioners and the coal porters and quay labourers had culminated in the service of summonses on 18 of the latter at the suit of the commissioners to compel them to take out licences.

Previously notices had been posted on the quay demanding labourers compliance which were answered by a threat of strike.

The commissioners had found that trade at the port had been suffering badly from “the exorbitant demands of the labourers and their stevedores”.

They had thus instructed their solicitor to enforce the powers which they had under an Act of Parliament compelling labourers to register and take out a licence with the commissioners.

The New Letter’s correspondent noted that summonses had been served on “seventeen or eighteen of the number” but that the strike had yet to take place because “work at the quay just now is rather slack or that better counsels have prevailed with the members of the St Columb’s Quay Labourers’ Society”.

It was understood that the labourers were “going to try the law of the case” and had retained the services of a solicitor called Mr James E O’Doherty.

The paper added that on this day in 1884 that the newly-called barrister, Mr Healy MP, was also likely to be approached by the society to represent their cause.