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Title: H.M Naval dockyard, Malta : society, work and industrial relations in a British naval base 1900-1939
Authors: Ellul, Mario (2004)
Keywords: Navy-yards and naval stations
Industrial relations
Social history
Grand Harbour (Valletta, Malta)
Issue Date: 2004
Citation: Ellul, M. (2004). H.M Naval dockyard, Malta : society, work and industrial relations in a British naval base 1900-1939 (Master’s dissertation).
Abstract: The first chapter of this work traces the development of docking facilities in Malta's Grand Harbour within the sphere of imperial and international politics. The development of military and naval facilities and the employment of labour in the island have been traditionally attributed to be the direct influence or as a response to international crises. The first chapter proposes that technological innovation may have had a greater role in this field than has hitherto been acknowledged. It will also attempt to set the worth of the Maltese dockyard against that of the other naval yards in the British Empire. Up to the late 1950s, the local dockyard featured prominently in the strategic considerations of Whitehall. However, as will be shown in this work, Malta came close to losing its premier status as a principal supply and repair base for the Royal Navy long before the run-down of the late 50s. The second chapter analyses the management strategies at the naval dockyard. The picture which comes out of the evidence is one of mismanagement of human and material resources, uneconomic practices and unsound policies. This part of the work delves also into the departmental structure of the yard and the extent to which it contributed to the deficiencies or strengths of operations at the Royal Dockyard. The role of the naval officers charged with the running of the yard is set against the traditionally held view that Maltese subordinates held no sway over the administration of the dockyard. The third chapter discusses the role of the Dockyard School. It argues that dockyard education was a powerful ideological force, gearing adolescents not simply for the challenges of an apprenticeship in their chosen craft, but also inculcating in them a set of values which were part of the dockyard ethos. It also helped to maintain the workforce largely amenable. However, dockyard education provided also articulation for an up and coming class of activists whose social and political conscience was being challenged by the more repressive aspects of British rule in Malta. The fourth chapter of this work proposes that though the dockyard provided the main boost to the development of trade unionism in the island, the employees were generally quite complacent to the Admiralty's policies. Up to the Second World War, contact with the Admiralty over questions of pay and employment conditions was generally conducted through the submission of petitions. The picture of the majority of the dockyard workers which emerges from this study is generally that of a deferential body of men. The fourth chapter in this work also tries to set in context the involvement of the British trade unionists and the extent to which their work came to influence the development of the trade union movement in the colonies. One factor which is generally overlooked in studies about the dockyard is the very powerful sectional and trade distinctions within the naval establishment. The fifth chapter in this work discusses the highly fragmented nature of the dockyard workforce. More often than not, the interests of one group were set against those of another~-providing a clear example of divide et impera at work. Another factor which is discussed in this chapter is the extent to which abuse and overtly corrupt practices seem to have dominated the affairs of the yard during the period in which the establishment was under naval control.
Description: M.A.HISTORY
Appears in Collections:Dissertations - FacArt - 1999-2010
Dissertations - FacArtHis - 1967-2010

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