On top of the current disruptions to UK trade caused by delays at the borders, a planned eight-day strike by workers at Port of Felixstowe later this month looks set to pile on further agony. With 50% of the UK’s inbound containers coming through the Suffolk port, the implications for businesses and consumers alike could be profound.
In light of a sharp increase in the cost of living, around 1,900 members of the Unite union say they will walk out on 21st August after rejecting a 7% pay offer from Felixstowe Dock and Railway Company. Unite described the pay offer “significantly below” the rate of inflation.
In a statement, the Port of Felixstowe said: “The company continues to actively seek a solution that works for all parties and that avoids this industrial action.
“We understand our employees’ concerns at the rising cost of living and are determined to do all we can to help whilst continuing to invest in the port’s success.
“Discussions are on-going and the company’s latest position in negotiations is an enhanced pay increase of 7%.”
Felixstowe grew to its current number one status on the back of excellent labour relationships in the 1970s. It became the UK’s largest container port when rival ports around the UK declined to invest in the technology necessary for handling containers. Furthermore, at many of the ports wishing to embrace this new way of transporting goods, workers went on strike against labour cuts brought on by containerisation.
The last strike at Felixstowe was in 1989.
Talks are expected to resume today (Monday 8th August 2022).