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Slaves, Serfs and Wage-Slavery - A Tale of London's Docklands

Slaves, Serfs and Wage-Slavery - A Tale of London's Docklands

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The tidal river Thames is the gateway to London. Before the advent of containerisation it was the greatest and busiest port in the world. In the Port of London men of all skills and abilities worked side by side, though not necessarily in close harmony. This tale, set soon after the Second World War, concerns ex-servicemen who had returned home to share in the 'rebuilding of their homeland' after the devastation caused by bombing, to be faced with the economic repression of wages and incomes justified by war debts owed to America and Canada. Work in the docks was hard and dangerous, and demanded long hours over a seven-day week. It was in such an environment that Henry T. Bradford spent thirty-two years of his working life, first as a 'Grade A' docker and later, after suffering severe injuries in dock accidents, as a ship's clerk. This is one of many dockland tales he has recorded for posterity, as a tribute to the men and the debates they dwelt on in yesteryear. Slaves, Serfs and Wage-slavery can be read on a number of levels - as an evocation of lost time, as a testament to the men who built England's prosperity - but, above all, as a clear and concise articulation of some lessons of history that employers, ministers and workers themselves would do well to learn.