CREATION RECORDS launched the ‘Rock The Dock’ album last Thursday (September 3) at a press conference at London Docklands Council Chambers.
The album was released yesterday (Monday September 7), and features Oasis, Primal Scream and Paul Weller among others, will raise funds for a charitable trust – the Initiative Factory – which will retrain long-serving dockers currently unable to find work. Some of them are already involved in creative writing workshops with Cracker writer Jimmy McGovern and Trainspotting author Irvine Welsh.
The fund will also compensate 100 dockers not covered by a redundancy agreement. Although the industrial dispute – which started in September 1995 when 400 dockers were sacked by the Mersey Docks and Harbour Company after going on strike to protest at working conditions, redundancies and the introduction of casual labour – ended this January, some 100 of the affected workers are outside the redundancy agreement. The CD is priced ‘9.99, is expected to have an initial pressing of 10,000, which should raise at least ‘50,000. All the artists, Creation Records, and those advertising and marketing the album have given their services for free.
Liverpool TGWU shop stewards Mike Cardin and Tony Melia, Rock The Dock organiser John McGlone, Billy Bragg and Dodgy drummer Math Priest fielded questions at the press conference. The stewards praised the involvement of the bands, who they said had been more supportive of the cause than either the Labour Party or the TUC. Last April, Noel Gallagher (pictured) played at London’s Mean Fiddler in one of several gigs to raise money for the strikers, including a benefit concert by Dodgy. These concerts raised ‘17,000, as well as ‘4,500 from Calvin Klein-logo styled T-shirt stalls at Oasis gigs last year.
Earlier last week, Noel Gallagher issued the following statement: “The dispute may appear to be over but the 400 sacked Liverpool dockers and their families are still suffering – the fight must go on. It’s a disgrace that their cause has been largely ignored for so long. People need to support them. Buy the CD or next time it could be you.” Billy Bragg, a longtime campaigner for social causes, said it “warmed his heart” to be involved with a new generation of bands. He claimed the dockers CD was as important as the Rock Against Racism marches in the late-’70s that attracted groups such as The Clash, Elvis Costello and the Tom Robinson Band. “It’s very important when people at the moment don’t have political principles, that we as a society are seen to support people who do have political principles,” he said.
The Boo Radleys’ Martin Carr and Sice said they were aware of the dispute but only decided to get involved latterly. They said they were mostly apolitical, but felt the issue was so close to home that they had to get involved. “We grew up in the ’80s,” Carr said, “in the days of Paul Weller, Billy Bragg and Red Wedge. And when you’re 14 you’re bored. The only politics you’re into are that ‘politics of life’ bullshit. I remember reading the NME in 1984 and not being able to understand it. But then you realise this stuff is real life and it’s happening now.” Carr was critical of the government’s apathy towards the dockers. “The Government is trying to make this new century into something. What about helping these people or giving people homes rather than building something that people will be using as a toilet (the Millennium Dome) in six months’ time.”
The album’s tracklisting is: ‘Introduction’ – Irvine Welsh, ‘Don’t Look Back In Anger’ (live at Earls Court) – Oasis, ‘For So Long’ – Cast, ‘Aimless’ – Smaller, ‘Best Bit’ – Beth Orton, ‘Found You’ (live from Liverpool) – Dodgy, ‘One By One’ – Chumbawamba, ‘Lazarus’ – The Boo Radleys, ‘Foxy’s Folk Faced’ – Ocean Colour Scene, ‘The Line’ – Doxx Band, ‘So You Want To Be A Dancer’ – Paul Weller, ‘Never Cross A Picket Line’ – Billy Bragg, ‘Haunted’ – Rumbletrain, ‘Transparent’ – Lovers, ‘Setting Son’ (live) – The Chemical Brothers, ‘Cast Out In The Seventies’ – Gene, ‘Come Together’ (original version) – Primal Scream.