Last-ditch talks between the trade union Unite and the Port of Felixstowe have reportedly failed, raising the prospect of industrial action at one of the UK’s most important container ports.
Sky News is reporting that a planned eight-day strike at the Suffolk-based port will go ahead after the breakdown in negotiations, which had been brokered by the government mediation service ACAS.
Around 1,900 members of Unite will begin their strike on 21 August.
Over 92% of Unite members voted to strike last week in a dispute over pay, with the union rejecting an offer of a 7% increase, following only a 1.4% increase last year.
The strike threatens to cause supply chain disruption across the UK with almost half of the UK’s container traffic flowing through the port.
The port authority said it offered an additional £500 lump sum to workers, as well as the 7% pay rise, according to ITV.
A spokesman 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.”
The BBC reports that Unite national officer Robert Morton said the strike would go ahead “unless the company tables an offer our members can accept.”
He added: "Unite's door remains open for further talks but strike action will go ahead unless the company tables an offer that our members can accept."
The Loadstar reports that companies based in the vicinity of the port believe the strike is “inevitable” but have questioned whether the strike will be a long-running one.
“Most of the guys I know that work in the port have mortgages and quite expensive lifestyles and I’m not at all sure they have an appetite for a long strike,” one source told the logistics news site.
Summer of strikes
The Express reports further transport strikes are to take place in August, with rail unions ASLEF and the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport starting planned industrial action on Saturday 13 August, with further days scheduled later in the week.
According to the Evening Standard, the list of workers striking this summer includes TFL staff, employees at airlines EasyJet, Ryanair and Lufthansa, and ferry workers around the Isle of Wight.
A string of strikes are also planned at e-commerce retailer Amazon – which is also a key logistics operator – over pay and working conditions, the Telegraph reports.