Workers at the port of Felixstowe will begin strike action later this month in a dispute over pay after peace talks at the conciliation service Acas failed to produce a reasonable offer.
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Over 1,900 workers, who are members of Unite, the UK’s leading union, will begin eight days of strike action on Sunday 21 August ending on Monday 29 August.
Talks at Acas failed to reach a satisfactory conclusion yesterday after the employer the Felixstowe Dock and Railway Company failed to improve on its offer of a seven per cent pay increase, which is significantly below the real (RPI) inflation rate of 11.8 per cent. Industrial relations were already strained as workers only received a 1.4 per cent, below inflation, increase last year.
Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Both Felixstowe docks and its parent company CK Hutchison Holding Ltd are both massively profitable and incredibly wealthy. They are fully able to pay the workforce a fair day’s pay.
“The company has prioritised delivering multi-million pound dividends rather than paying its workers a decent wage.
“Unite is entirely focused on enhancing its members’ jobs, pay and conditions and it will be giving the workers at Felixstowe its complete support until this dispute is resolved and a decent pay increase is secured.”
Felixstowe is the UK’s largest container port and 48 per cent of containers brought into the UK are transported via the port.
Strike action will have a huge effect on the UK’s supply chain and will also cause severe disruption to international maritime trade, as well as the UK’s supply chain including the logistics and haulage sectors.
The Felixstowe Dock and Railway Company is extremely profitable; its most recent accounts show that it made pre-tax profits of £61 million in 2020, when it also paid out £99 million in dividends.
The company’s dividends are paid into a complicated company structure but are principally received by the organisation’s ultimate holding company, CK Hutchison Holdings Ltd. It is registered in the Cayman Islands and listed on the Hong Kong stock exchange.
The workers undertake all forms of manual roles at the docks including crane drivers, machine operators and stevedores.
Unite national office for docks Bobby Morton said: “Strike action will cause huge disruption and will generate massive shockwaves throughout the UK’s supply chain, but this dispute is entirely of the company’s own making. It has had every opportunity make our members a fair offer but has chosen not to do so.
“Felixstowe needs to stop prevaricating and make a pay offer which meets our members’ expectations.”
Further talks are scheduled to take place at Acas on 8 August. ■