Stuart Svenson1 claims that the Maritime Strike of 1998 was history repeating itself in the way that it resembled the 1890 Maritime Strike. There are a number of points of comparison – who was involved, what the issue was at stake, the economic context – but it is the contrasts which are the most important when examining the two strikes. The major point of contrast was the legal context within which the unions were operating. In 1890 there was no formal recognition of trade unions – this did not come until after the strike – whilst in 1998, the recognition, and associated ‘power’, that had subsequently been achieved was considerably diminished by the newly elected conservative government’s Workplace Relations Act 1996.