Nearly 600 Liverpool port workers are set to stage an additional week-long strike next month in a dispute over pay.
Unite, the union representing workers at Mersey Docks and Harbour Company (MDHC), part of Peel Ports, currently engaged in a two-week strike that ends on Sunday, will strike for a second time, starting October 11.
Control room staff, including senior operators, will join port operatives and engineers as they battle for wage gains to match the 12.3% inflation rate in the UK. The port’s dock masters, shift managers and vessel traffic services officers are also preparing to be balloted for strike action.
The current strike, which coincides with an eight-day walkout by Felixstowe port workers, takes place as the union rejected an 8.3% pay package and a one-off payment of £750 for each container operative at the port. Peel Ports said the union’s demands for an increase in base pay in excess of 12.3% and an additional increase in pay rates would take the overall package to around 20%.
Unite is also in dispute with Peel over a failure to honour a pay agreement made last year. This includes the company not undertaking a promised pay review, which last happened in 1995, and failing to deliver on an agreement to improve shift rotas.
The union’s national coordinator for free ports, Steven Gerrard, said: “The disruption caused to the port of Liverpool and the supply lines that depend on it is entirely the fault of MDHC and Peel Ports. If even more staff walk out over the company’s insufficient pay offer, the entire port will literally become inoperable.”
Meanwhile, Peel Ports assured all its non-container customers that their port operations would continue as normal during this period.
As the second largest port group in the UK, Peel Ports handles over 70m tonnes of cargo each year. Port director Richard Mitchell said that a prolonged dispute and a union seeking an unrealistic pay package, whilst rejecting an offer above inflation, is “unreasonable and not sustainable for any business”.