Dissolution of National Dock Labour Board

Part of Orders of the Day — Dock Work Bill – in the House of Commons at 10:10 pm on 24th May 1989.

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Photo of Dawn Primarolo Dawn Primarolo , Bristol South 10:10 pm, 24th May 1989

We want people to work in safe environments. Why has this legislation suddenly been rushed through without consultation, making sweeping changes and challenging people's livelihoods and their very lives? I believe that it is a cynical attempt to divert public opinion from the Government's problems—the National Health Service review, the poll tax, the balance of payments crisis, ever-rising interest rates and the complex problems developing in the housing market. If the scheme needs amending, why has that not been negotiated between the employers and the unions? Why is it necessary to use such a sledgehammer to crack such a small nut?

The dock labour scheme is about employment rights, not about providing anachronistic protection for employers. It ill behoves any hon. Member to pass judgment and make hasty statements about circumstances of which they have no experience and no real knowledge. I ask them to look at what is going on in the scheme ports—to move away from the business interests that they seek to represent in the House, and to make a clear decision in favour of the dock industry's workers and its future.