My Union Right or Wrong.
A history of the Ship Painters and Dockers Union 1900-1932
By Issy Wyner
GEORGE DULSTONE was a founding member of the reformed Union and was elected President at the outset of 1901. Towards the end of 1900, as a working member, he was part of the deputation together with Mahony which laid the demand on the Mort’s Company to sack non-union men doing Ship Painters and Dockers Union work. The demand was made on the basis of an earlier agreement that non-union men would not be employed while members of the union were available. The Dockyard manager (Christie) rejected the Union’s demand, declaring that the Union could do what it liked about the matter, and a strike was declared. It lasted 3½ days and ended with the reiteration of the earlier agreement on use of non-union men.
Dulstone became President when Creighton resigned without any explanation. (Minutes, 11/2/1901) But, at the mid-year election, he was replaced by Jos Vail, with Jos Creighton as Vice President (Minutes, 17/6/1901). Once more, the members at Mort’s Dock were obliged to strike when the use of non-union men arose, and Dulstone was elected as one of the Strike Committee. This time, the strike was more protracted and attracted wide sympathy, such as a publican making his rooms available free of charge for the strike committee to meet and Bushell’s sending a load of tea for distribution among the men. While the strike proceeded, other Union business also continued, and, in July, the Union became a member of the Eight Hour Committee and Dulstone was elected as one of the Union’s two delegates to the Committee. (Minutes, 22/7/1901)
Towards the end of 1901, dissension arose over the hourly rate of pay to be claimed for the next Agreement. Dulstone argued that the rate already set should be enforced; McKew moved as an amendment that a claim for one shilling per hour should be made. The Chairman ruled the amendment out of order. Dulstone dissented and his dissent was carried, after which he withdrew his motion in favour of McKew’s amendment which was carried. (Minutes, 21/10/1901)
In the election of officers at the end of the year, Creighton was elected President and Dulstone was elected Vice President. (Minutes, 30/12/1901)
During a debate on whether members collecting union dues should be paid commission, Dulstone argued that
If members devoted their time to collecting they should be paid for it. Everyone that collected lost time over the matter. (Minutes, 3/1/1910)
The matter remained unresolved.
Dulstone continued to be elected as President for some years, but did not participate in deputations, conferences, etc., probably due to his also being a chargehand. At the election of officers, at the half-yearly meeting on 20th December, 1909, he was re-placed as President by A.Eastangriffe. Addressing the meeting after the election, Dulstone stated that
He had occupied the chair for 4½ years during which time he had tried to carry out is duty conscientiously, he would be at all times prepared too render any assistance possible to the officers and members of the Union.
McKew and Talbot then successfully moved
That a souvenir to cost £1.1.0 be presented to Mr. Dulstone in recognition of his services to the Union. (Minutes, 20/12/1909)
Two years later, the half-yearly meeting on 11th December, 1911, re-elected him as President. But illness caused his absence from many meetings, when the Vice President stood in for him. The minutes noted his absences, with apologies submitted from meeting to meeting. and James Pauley, Vice President, acting as Chairman (Minutes, 15/1/1912, 24/2/1912, etc.).
In March, J.B.Jenkins enquired as to the health of the President and the Treasurer. The Secretary reported that they were both making slow progress towards recovery. Resolved that sympathy of members be extended to them in their illness. (Minutes, 11/3/1912)
George Dulstone’s illness, not specified, continued and without further mention, the half-yearly meeting elected Scrimshaw as President. Strangely, the member who had acted as President throughout the year, James Pauley, did not nominate for the position, or for Vice President. (Minutes, 1/7/1912.)