On top of the current disruptions to UK trade caused by delays at the borders, a planned eight-day strike by workers at Port of Felixstowe later this month looks set to pile on further agony. With 50% of the UK’s inbound containers coming through the Suffolk port, the implications for businesses and consumers alike could be profound.
In light of a sharp increase in the cost of living, around 1,900 members of the Unite union say they will walk out on 21st August after rejecting a 7% pay offer from Felixstowe Dock and Railway Company. Unite described the pay offer “significantly below” the rate of inflation.
Bobby Morton, Unite’s national officer for docks, 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 to 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.”
In a statement, the Port of Felixstowe said: “We are disappointed and regret that despite our best efforts we have still been unable to reach an agreement with the hourly branch of Unite. During talks yesterday the port further improved its position offering a £500 lump sum in addition to 7%. The staff branch of Unite and the Police Federation of Felixstowe Dock and Railway Company have agreed to put a similar offer to their members.
“In contrast, the hourly branch of Unite has again rejected the port’s improved position and refused to put it to its members. We urge them to consult their members on the latest offer as soon as possible. There will be no winners from a strike which will only result in their members losing money they would otherwise have earned. Our focus has been to find a solution that works for our employees and protects the future success of the port.
The union has rejected the company’s offer to meet again.”
The last strike at Felixstowe was in 1989.
There is no news yet about whether talks are expected to resume.