Hundreds of Liverpool container workers set for two-week strike

Latest pay dispute could further disrupt UK supply chains already hit by walkouts at Felixstowe port

Hundreds of workers at one of the UK’s largest container ports will go on strike for two weeks from Monday evening in a dispute over pay, in a move that could further disrupt UK supply chains.

Unite members at the Port of Liverpool will begin the industrial action hours after the Queen’s funeral, having turned down a pay offer from the Peel Ports Group, which owns the site.

The company said workers had rejected a 8.3% pay rise, enhanced with a one-off payment of £750. However the union described the offer as a real-terms pay cut because of the soaring rate of inflation during the cost of living crisis, arguing that the port’s owners could afford a higher increase.

The dispute will overlap with a planned second eight-day strike at Felixstowe, the UK’s largest container port, which starts the week after.

Unite members at the Suffolk port, which handles almost half the container freight that enters the UK, are preparing to halt work from 27 September, after rejecting a 7% pay deal offered by management.

A previous eight-day strike at Felixstowe, which handles goods for 17 different shipping lines operating to and from 700 ports, brought it to a standstill.

The latest round of walkouts threaten fresh disruption to UK supply chains after the shocks of Brexit and the Covid pandemic, and follow a summer of industrial action that has affected sectors across the economy including the railways, postal service, law courts and telecoms.

David Huck, the Port of Liverpool’s chief operating officer, said: “I am deeply disappointed Unite has rejected our significant pay package after many months of negotiation. This is bad news for our employees, families and other local employers.

“We fully recognise our colleagues’ concerns on the cost of living crisis, and that’s why we have responded with a pay package that represents a 10% average increase in annual pay.”

Unite’s general secretary, Sharon Graham, said: “Workers across the country are sick to death of being told to take a hit on their wages and living standards while employer after employer is guilty of rampant profiteering.”

She said the port’s owners needed to table a “reasonable offer and fulfil its previous pay promises”.

The company said it had committed to a shift pattern change that would result in a 25% reduction in night-shift working. It also said the average container operative’s salary would increase to about £43,000 a year, significantly above the Liverpool and national average.

The Port of Liverpool operates two container terminals, the Royal Seaforth Container Terminal and Liverpool2, employing a total of 845 people in the containers division.

The docks handled approximately 525,000 containers in 2021 and the goods inside the containers were distributed around the world, with the products including imports and exports, such as retail and industrial items.


Jess Clark

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Liverpool dock workers to begin two-week strike after talks end in ‘chaos’
UK supply chains likely to be hit after talks over pay with Peel Ports fail, and Unite’s Sharon Graham criticises actions by board

Joanna Partridge

23, Oct, 2022 @6:25 PM

Article image
Felixstowe strikes: how will they affect UK shop shelves and prices?
The eight-day stoppage at Britain’s largest container port could have a damaging impact on supply chains

Richard Partington Economics correspondent

22, Aug, 2022 @5:48 PM

Article image
Strikes expected at Felixstowe port as pay talks end without agreement
Dock workers at vital Suffolk container port offered 7% pay rise and £500 lump sum

Joanna Partridge

09, Aug, 2022 @3:42 PM

Article image
Plans for eight-day strike at Felixstowe threaten UK supply chain
Owners prioritise multimillion-pound shareholder dividends over paying decent wages, says union

Jasper Jolly

05, Aug, 2022 @4:14 PM

Article image
Workers’ anger at cost of living as strong as time of poll tax riots, union boss says
Sharon Graham, head of Unite, on picket line with Felixstowe dock strikers, says people could rise up again as they did in the 1990s

Richard Partington in Felixstowe

24, Aug, 2022 @5:22 PM

Article image
‘Global greedflation’: big firms ‘driving shopping bills to record highs’
Analysis by UK union shows large corporations have improved profits with price rises in cost of living crisis

Phillip Inman

12, Mar, 2023 @4:00 PM

Article image
Dockers at UK’s largest container port vote to strike in August
Felixstowe workers vote in favour of industrial action after Unite union rejected 5% pay rise

Robert Booth and Joanna Partridge

28, Jul, 2022 @3:19 PM

Article image
Amazon warehouse workers stage Black Friday strikes and protests around world
On one of firm’s biggest shopping days of year, employees demand better wages and conditions

Mark Sweney

25, Nov, 2022 @9:48 AM

Article image
UK facing biggest disruption since 1980s miners’ strike
Nearly 1.7 million mostly public sector workers are being balloted on or have voted for stoppages

Heather Stewart and Phillip Inman

06, Nov, 2022 @3:12 PM

Article image
Threat of BA strike at Heathrow suspended after airline agrees pay deal
Unite union to ballot members on ‘vastly improved’ offer for check-in staff – while Jet2 announces 8% salary increases

Gwyn Topham Transport correspondent

07, Jul, 2022 @3:09 PM