Workers at the UK’s biggest container port have gone on strike for the first time since 1989, with shipping companies and union leaders warning the action could impact supply chains and leave shoppers waiting for goods. Around 1,900 crane drivers, machine operators and stevedores are involved in eight day action.
Felixstowe handles nearly half of the containerised freight entering the country and the action could mean ships have to be diverted to ports elsewhere in the UK or Europe. Haulage firms have warned that the strike could have a serious impact on business, while trade organisations have said consumers could be hit with price rises.
The port has offered the workers a 7% pay rise with an additional £500 and the Port of Felixstowe staff union was prepared to accept these terms, but the Unite workers voted to strike.
Unite national officer Robert Morton said he wanted a pay rise between 7% and 12.3% to reflect more closely the rate of inflation. He added: “We’ve been asking for a minimum of the rate of inflation. The RPI at the moment is at (12.3%). “However, if we can sit down and thrash this out, there will be a figure between 7% and 12.3% that’s acceptable to my membership.”
Strike action at the port is expected to last until Monday, 29 August. Entering Day three of the strike, there has been no resolution so far.
As the eight day strike has now come to an end and no agreement has been reached, what happens next?
Some 1,900 workers out of 2,550 at Felixstowe concluded their walk out over a 7% pay offer on Sunday evening.
The port’s owner said its pay offer, which also included a £500 one-off bonus payment, was “very fair”.
The union Unite described the pay offer as “significantly below” the rate of inflation.
Unite warned it would set further strike dates if the company would not negotiate further.