Workers in UK's largest container port, Felixstowe, begin 8-day strike

Workers in UK’s largest container port, Felixstowe, begin 8-day strike

A view shows stacked shipping containers in the port of Felixstowe, UK, October 13, 2021. Photo taken with a drone. REUTERS/Hannah McKay

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LONDON, Aug. 21 (Reuters) – More than 1,900 workers in Britain’s largest container port will begin strikes for eight days on Sunday. Their union and shipping companies warn that this could have serious consequences for trade and supply chains.

Staff at Felixstowe, on England’s east coast, take industrial action in a wage dispute, becoming the last workers to go on strike in Britain as unions demand higher wages for members faced with a cost-of-living crisis .

“Strike strikes will create huge disruptions and send huge shockwaves to the UK supply chain, but this dispute is entirely company-driven,” said Bobby Morton, Unite’s national docks officer.

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“It [the company] has had every opportunity to make a fair offer to our members, but has chosen not to.”

On Friday, Felixstowe’s operator Hutchison Ports said its offer of a 7% pay raise and a lump sum of £500 ($604) was reasonable. It said the dockers’ union, which represents about 500 staff in supervisory, technical and administrative positions, had accepted the deal.

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

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

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

Shipping group Maersk (MAERSKb.CO), one of the world’s largest container shippers, has warned that the move would have a significant impact, cause operational delays and force it to make changes to its ship setup.

Figures released on August 17 showed that UK consumer price inflation reached 10.1% in July, the highest since February 1982, and some economists predict it will reach 15% in the first three months of next year amid rising numbers. energy and food costs. read more

The tight household income has already led to strikes by train and bus workers, among others, who demand higher wage increases.

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Reporting by Michael Holden

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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