Charlie Thomas

Thesis Title:

Thinking beyond the workplace


Historically, dockworkers and their representative trade unions have been involved in political processes that exceed the confines of the workplace, such as decolonisation and the Civil Rights Movement. This is in part due to their structural power – located at bottlenecks, dockworkers are able to effectively disrupt supply-chains through taking industrial action. Globalised trade and the logistics revolution have further bolstered a dependence on shipping. This has foregrounded the capacity for dockworkers to meaningfully abet in political struggles outside of their geographic immediacy, which they often exercise. Dockworkers from places as diverse as Italy, the United States, South Africa, Sweden, and Turkey have refused to load and unload arms destined for Zimbabwe, Saudi Arabia, Israel, fascist Italy, and apartheid South Africa. This research aims to uncover how such cultures of resistance are fomented and maintained among dockworkers and the relationship these workers have to trade unions, states, and international organisations.

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Primary Supervisor:

Laleh Khalili


Pathway 5: Work, Organisations & Business Management