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1970: State of emergency called over dock strike
British Home Secretary Reginald Maudling has declared a state of emergency to deal with strikes at UK ports.

Within 10 minutes of returning from a trip to Canada the Queen signed the proclamation allowing the government special powers to deal with major disruptions to daily life.

The Army has ordered 36,000 troops - including the Royal Navy and RAF - to be on standby to handle cargo from the 150 ships affected.

Retailers and wholesalers report no immediate threat to supplies of essential goods and say they have reserves to last several weeks.

But the Ministry of Defence, which is controlling the forces' operation, expects troops to be used to move perishable foods from dockside warehouses.

British dockers' representatives voted 48 to 32 in favour of strike action yesterday to raise their basic wage from 11 a week.

It has all the hallmarks of being a prolonged strike
National docks secretary (TGWU) Tim O'Leary
The government expects the stoppage will hold up 75% of UK imports and exports and they have asked strikers to return to work as a court of inquiry considers their grievances.

National docks secretary of the Transport and General Workers Union (TGWU) Tim O'Leary said last night: "It has all the hallmarks of being a prolonged strike."

The new regulations must be agreed by both Houses of Parliament within seven days and will remain in force for a further 28 days.

Opposition leader Harold Wilson has already pledged the Labour Party's support for the Conservative Government's decision.

Emergency powers were last used during the seamen's strike in 1966, when the original 1920 legislation was amended.

It is the first national dock strike since 1926 and involves around 47,000 dockworkers across the country.

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Docks in London
The strike could hold up 75% of UK imports and exports


In context
Although the dock strike cost the UK economy between 50m and 100m, it remained peaceful.

Many dockers agreed to handle perishable goods without the intervention of troops.

The court of inquiry, chaired by Lord Pearson, reported on 27 July and suggested an average 7% increase in dockers' wages.

Initially the dockers rejected the terms saying they made little real difference to their basic wage.

On Thursday 30 July union delegates voted 51 to 31 to accept the findings of the Pearson report and return to work on the following Monday.

The strikers lost 4m in wages, but received strike benefit from the TGWU.

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