Workers at UK’s biggest container port Felixstowe due to begin 8-day strike

A view shows shipping containers stacked at the port of Felixstowe, Britain, October 13, 2021. Photo taken with a drone. REUTERS/Hannah McKay

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LONDON, Aug 21 (Reuters) – More than 1,900 workers at Britain’s biggest container port are due to begin an eight-day strike on Sunday which their union and shipping companies say could badly affect trade and supply chains supply.

Staff at Felixstowe on the east coast of England are taking industrial action in a pay dispute, becoming the latest workers to strike in Britain as unions demand higher wages for members facing a cost of living crisis.

“Strike action will cause huge disruption and send massive shockwaves through the UK supply chain, but this dispute is entirely within the company,” said Bobby Morton, National Docks Manager of the Unite union.

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“This [the company] had every opportunity to make a fair offer to our members, but chose not to.”

On Friday, Felixstowe operator Hutchison Ports said he believed his offer of a 7% pay rise and a lump sum of 500 pounds ($604) was fair. He said the port workers’ union, which represents around 500 employees in supervisory, engineering and clerical roles, had agreed to the deal.

Unite, which primarily represents dockworkers, says the proposal is significantly below the current rate of inflation and followed a below-inflation increase last year.

“The port regrets the impact this action will have on UK supply chains,” a Hutchison Ports spokesperson said.

The port said it will have a contingency plan in place and is working to minimize disruption during the walkouts which will last until August 29.

Maersk Marine Group (MAERSKb.CO)one of the world’s largest container shippers, warned that the action would have a significant impact, causing operational delays and forcing it to change its line of vessels.

Figures released on August 17 showed consumer price inflation in Britain hit 10.1% in July, the highest since February 1982, and some economists forecast it will rise to 15% over the next first three months of next year against a backdrop of rising energy and food prices. Read more

Squeezing household incomes have already led to strikes among railway and bus workers demanding higher pay rises.

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Reporting by Michael Holden

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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