Date: 05.10.2022

UK container port strikes continue

Dock worker strikes at Felixstowe and Liverpool, which overlapped for seven days, ended this week still without agreement and the likelihood of further disruption appears inevitable, with Liverpool members of the Unite Union preparing to stage a second walkout, from the 11th to 17th of October.

The Unite union said the offer of an 8.3% pay rise and one-off £750 payment by Liverpool Port’s operators fell well short of the present rate of inflation, which is forecast to continue rising.

Despite the strikes at Liverpool and Felixstowe, they have had a limited impact on our operations, with increasing numbers of shifts working on strike days, to keep Felixstowe partially operational. Continuing labour disputes are in no one’s interest and we hope that all parties can reach an amicable settlement without delay.

Much of Unite’s Liverpool grievance concerns Peel Port’s failure to honour promises from the 2021 pay agreement and improving shift rotas. Unite officer Steven Gerrard said: “It has refused to honour previous pay pledges it made to our members and is refusing to put forward an acceptable pay rise now.”

The Unite Union blamed the Felixstowe Dock and Railway Company for unilaterally ending pay talks, after refusing to improve its pay offer and imposing a pay deal of 7% on the workforce.

Bobby Morton, national officer of Unite said. “We will strike again and again and again until our wages match inflation. We asked our members, are you prepared to accept the 7% that’s been imposed upon you? Or do you want to carry on striking to get what you deserve? And we got a return of 82% of our members saying that we want to carry on regardless. Now the inflation rate is rocketing.”

Unite union representatives from Felixstowe and Liverpool were to meet yesterday to discuss next steps. We understand that employers are not part of this discussion and details of any agreements or actions have yet to emerge.

Industrial action is also prevalent throughout European and American ports and other related infrastructure and we are ensuring that we report back as soon as these are announced, with options and recommendations to mitigate the fallout as it occurs. This is not unique to the UK.

We continue to monitor and manage the evolving situation at Liverpool and Felixstowe and will keep you updated should there be any significant developments.

As with previous industrial action, we clear our cargoes from the ports in advance of strike dates and have contingency plans to protect supply chains and work around any points of disruption.

For further updates and the latest news on the announced strike action and potential impact, please contact Simon Balfe, who is leading the team or your day to day account manager.