The UK’s largest container port, Felixstowe, could be affected by strike action at some point during August. The gateway hopes to come to a resolution with workers.
Members of trade union Unite that are based at the UK’s leading container gateway voted unanimously for industrial action. Unite said the dispute is a result of the Felixstowe Dock and Railway Company offering a pay increase of 5 percent to its workers – an effective pay cut with the real retail price index rate of inflation currently standing at 11.9 percent. Last year, the workforce received a below inflation pay increase of 1.4 percent, said the union.
Unite general secretary Sharon Graham explained: “The bottom line is this is an extremely wealthy company that can fully afford to give its workers a pay rise. Instead, it chose to give bonanza pay outs to shareholders touching GBP100 million (USD122.3 million).
“Unite is focused on defending the jobs, pay and conditions of its members and we will [be] giving 100 percent support to our members at Felixstowe. Workers should not be paying the price for the pandemic with a pay cut. Unite has undertaken 360 disputes in a matter of months and we will do all in our power to defend workers.”
Unite regional officer Miles Hubbard added: “Strike action at Felixstowe will inevitably create huge disruption across the UK’s supply chain. This dispute is of Felixstowe’s own making. Strike dates have yet to be announced but even at this late stage the dispute could be resolved by the company returning to negotiations and making a realistic offer.”
A spokesperson from Hutchison Ports (UK), owner and operator of the port of Felixstowe, said: “The company made what we believe to be a very fair offer and we are disappointed with the result of the ballot. The union has agreed to our request to meet with ACAS and we hope that any industrial action can be avoided.”