Union at Port of Felixstowe contemplates further strike action as pay deal imposed

Thu 8 Sept 2022
Posted by: Phillip Adnett
Trade News

Port of Felixstowe strikes

The Port of Felixstowe could be facing a second round of industrial action – around the same time as planned strikes at the Port of Liverpool.

According to the Loadstar, Felixstowe dockers are set to be consulted again on more strike action that could overlap with walkouts at the Merseyside port.

Dockers at Liverpool will walk out on 19 September for two weeks until 3 October, as reported previously by the IOE&IT’s Daily Update.

Liverpool is one of the UK’s main freight ports serving trade to Ireland and the US and fourth-largest handler of seaborne trade.

Pay deal

The BBC reports that management at the Port of Felixstowe, the UK’s biggest container port, has decided to impose a pay deal, citing a breakdown in negotiations as a major factor.

Management has reportedly given a 7% pay rise backdated to January this year, with a £500 bonus. The union Unite, which represents dockers at both Felixstowe and Liverpool, is currently asking for a 10% raise.

In a letter, port CEO Robert Ashton told staff: "we have exhausted all avenues to close a deal" and that the port would "implement" its pay offer "to have a closure to this matter".

Union response

Robert Morton, an officer at Unite, said the union is surveying its members at the Port of Felixstowe.

He did not confirm or deny any planned overlap between the two strikes.

Sharon Graham, general secretary of Unite, warned of further strikes if the port did not reconsider their offer.

Continued delays

The East Anglian Daily Times reports that logistics firms are avoiding the port amidst fears of future strikes.

And according to Port Technology, average wait times at Felixstowe have tripled from 10 hours at the beginning of August.

Peter Williams, a trade flow analyst at consultancy VesselsValue, said that they were seeing decreases in waiting times, suggesting they had hit their peak.

“The time taken for Felixstowe congestion to revert to normality will largely depend on how long it takes the port to process this backlog – something that retailers will be closely monitoring as they prepare for the festive spending period,” he said.