Workers at UK’s biggest container port to begin strike

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Workers at Britain’s biggest container port are due to commence an eight-day strike action on Sunday.

The more than 1,900 staff at Felixstowe, on the east coast of England, are taking the industrial action in a dispute over pay.

The workers’ union and shipping companies have warned that the strike could seriously affect trade and supply chains.

“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 [the company] has had every opportunity to make our members a fair offer but has chosen not to do so.” Bobby Morton, the Unite union’s national officer for docks said.

Shipping group Maersk, one of the world’s biggest container shippers, has warned that the action would have a significant impact, causing operational delays and forcing it to make changes to its vessel line-up.

Pay rise

On Friday, Felixstowe’s operator Hutchison Ports said it believed its offer of a 7% pay rise and a lump sum of 500 pounds ($604) was fair.

Also Read: Strikes paralyse London transport network 

It said the port’s workers union, which represents about 500 staff in supervisory, engineering and clerical roles, had accepted the deal.

Unite, which represents mainly dock workers, says the proposal is significantly below the current inflation rate, and followed a below inflation increase last year.

“The port regrets the impact this action will have on UK supply chains,” a Hutchison Ports spokesperson said.

The port said it would have a contingency plan in place, and was working to minimise disruption during the walkouts which will last until August 29.

Consumer price inflation

Figures released on August 17 showed Britain’s consumer price inflation hit 10.1% in July, the highest since February 1982, and some economists forecast it will hit 15% in the first three months of next year amid surging energy and food costs.

The squeeze on household incomes has already led to strikes by the likes of rail and bus workers demanding higher pay rises.

 

Zainab Sa’id

Source Reuters

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