UK’s largest container port Felixstowe is set to come to a standstill next month after members of Unite union overwhelmingly backed strike action in a dispute over pay.
Felixstowe is responsible for 48% of the UK’s container trade and Unite warned the strike action would cause major logistical problems for maritime and road haulage transport entering the port.
The dispute is a result of the Felixstowe Dock and Railway Company offering a pay increase of 5% to its workers, which the union claimed is an effective pay cut with the real retail price index rate of inflation currently standing at 11.9%, adding that last year the workforce received a below inflation pay increase of 1.4%.
Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “The bottom line is that this is an extremely wealthy company that can fully afford to give its workers a pay rise. Instead, it chose to give bonanza payouts to shareholders touching £100m.” – principally received by the organisation’s ultimate holding company, Hong Kong-listed international ports operator CK Hutchison.
“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,” said Unite’s regional officer, Miles Hubbard.
Earlier this week, an industrial action ballot was opened for hundreds of dockworkers in Liverpool. More than 500 Unite members employed at MDHC Container Services, part of Peel Ports, the second largest port group in the UK, will vote on whether to strike at the end of August.