How an unofficial dock strike was reported in 1969
Feb 13 2008 by Alex Turner, Liverpool Daily Post
EIGHT million bananas worth £125,000 are to be dumped in the Irish Sea tonight as a result of an unofficial strike involving about 1,000 dockers at Liverpool.
And this afternoon a spokesman for the importers, Geest Industries Ltd, warned that unless Liverpool could offer a more reliable service for their highly perishable cargoes the company may have to take their business elsewhere.
The bananas have been rotting in the hold of the 2,824-ton cargo ship Brunsberg, which arrived at Hornby Dock, from the West Indies, last Sunday carrying 120,000 stems of the fruit. She was due to have left with an export cargo yesterday.
Unloading of her banana cargo went on normally until Wednesday when dockers stopped work in sympathy with others who went on strike on another ship.
Up to that time 60,000 stems had been unloaded, but the other 53,000 stems have remained in the holds slowly rotting.
Mr AC Pilkington, general shipping manager for Geest, said that although the Brunsberg [is] fully refrigerated, once the hatches had been removed, the temperature in the holds went up and the warm weather of the last few days had accelerated the rotting process.
Had the whole cargo been unloaded, the Brunsberg would have returned to the West Indies with a full export cargo.
Mr John van Geest, managing director of Geest Industries, stated that the shop value of the bananas being dumped was £125,000.
It is most unfortunate that we should be caught up in a strike that has nothing to do with us, he said.
He said the ship on which the dispute started had already left the port, but the dockers who worked on that ship were continuing their strike until a settlement of their claim had been reached.
He understood the next meeting of the strikers was Monday, and even if a settlement was reached then the earliest discharging of the banana cargo from Brunsberg would have been Tuesday. By that time the bananas would have been fit to eat.
In any case the Brunsberg could not wait any [longer] because another cargo of 1,600 tons of bananas was already waiting for her in the Windward Islands.
Mr Pilkington said this was the sixth stoppage Geest had had since they moved their banana importing operations from Preston twelve months ago and a new terminal was built especially for their trade at Hornby Dock.