RMT honours 1966 NUS strikers and steps up campaign for seafarers' rights
RMT: July 4 2006
VETERANS OF the heroic 1966 seafarers' strike for a 40-hour week were today honoured by the RMT conference in Dublin, as the union stepped up its campaign for seafarers' rights.
In an emotional address, striker Gordon Norris recalled the six-week long struggle of the National Union of Seamen, and how he had been named by prime minister Harold Wilson as one of the "politically motivated men" behind the dispute.
"Without struggle there is no progress, nothing is given to you, you have to fight for it," Gordon Norris said.
To mark the anniversary RMT has also reproduced the 1966 pamphlet, Not Wanted on Voyage, a passionate defence of the NUS campaign.
"The NUS faced the wrath of ship owners, the capitalist media and a Labour government for daring to seek conditions for its members equivalent to those enjoyed by shore-based workers," RMT general secretary Bob Crow said today.
"Since 1966 the number of UK ratings has fallen from 65,000 to just 8,000 today, as shipowners continue cynically to replace British crews with overseas ratings on shamelessly exploitative rates of pay.
"Four decades on, seafarers are still campaigning for basic employment rights.
"Many people are astonished to learn that shipowners are specifically exempted from having to abide by the 1976 Race Relations Act, which protects workers of different nationalities from discrimination on rates of pay.
"Even the minimum wage is denied to seafarers on UK ships in UK territorial waters.
"Four decades on it is important to recognise and salute the struggle for a 40-hour week, and to step up the fight for empoloyment rights for today's generation of seafarers," Bob Crow said.