Liverpool dock workers plan more industrial action as strikes spread to post and rail

Wed 5 Oct 2022
Posted by: Phillip Adnett
Trade News

Port of Felixstowe strikes

Dock workers at the Port of Liverpool are planning further industrial action next week, after their first round of strikes ended on Monday (3 October) without a deal.

Eleven days of striking ended in a stalemate with no new offer from the Mersey Docks and Harbour Company (MHDC), which has tabled an 8.3% wage rise for workers.

The Unite union, which represents the workers, has planned another walkout of 600 workers between 11-17 October, which it said would make the port “inoperable”, reports the Liverpool Echo.

Christmas curbs

A second round of action will have a greater impact on shipments in the run up to Christmas, Andreas Braun, EMEA ocean product director of Crane Worldwide Logistics, told CNBC.

“Unlike the first strike where there was sufficient preparation time to deviate to alternative ports, ocean lines and shippers will now try to deviate from the ports again to Hamburg and Rotterdam, increasing the travel time to the new port by 12-14 days,” he said.

The action at Liverpool, which handles about $1 billion of cargo a week, could increase supply chain disruption with further strikes also threatened at the Port of Felixstowe, which handles half of the UK’s container traffic.

Felixstowe further action

Felixstowe workers have completed a second eight-day strike as they seek an inflation-matching wage of around 10%.

However, owners Hutchison Ports instead offered a 7% rise, plus a £500 one-off payment.

Miles Hubbard, regional officer for Unite, told the BBC that 82% of workers had rejected the offer and they were “determined as they have been to stick it out and, if necessary, take further action”.

Postal walkouts

The UK is also facing a series of strikes from postal and rail workers in the weeks ahead.

Around 115,000 postal staff represented by the Communication Workers Union (CWU) have announced 19 days of action which would take place throughout October and November, reports iNews.

The union said the strikes would cover peak mail periods such as Black Friday (25 November), Cyber Monday (28 November) and the Christmas build-up, according to the Telegraph.

Rail strike

Over 9,000 members of train drivers’ union Aslef are striking today for 24 hours, affecting 13 train companies, reports the BBC.

Union boss Mick Lynch claims workers have gone without a pay rise for two years despite shareholders profiting.

Steve Montgomery, chairman of the industry lobby body Rail Delivery Group, said “modernising practices” would enable rail operators to increase pay.

Transport secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan has asked trade union leaders to come back to the negotiating table so a "landing zone" could be found.

Carrot and stick

Trevelyan told the Conservative party conference “that here is a deal to be done between the unions and our train operators”, according to The Evening Standard.

However, the government is also looking at introducing new legislation to clamp down on some strikes, reports the Times.

The prime minister is said to be considering a radical extension of laws that ensure a minimum service during rail strikes, and has asked ministers to find ways to apply the principle across the public sector.