Port of Liverpool strikers
Ian Byrne MP (far left) on the Liverpool picket line

Dock workers at the port of Liverpool began a two week strike today, following the breakdown of negotiations with employer Peel Ports.

Felixstowe dockers, also in a dispute over pay, will start an eight-day strike from 27 September, ending 5 October.

Liverpool’s 560 dockers delayed the start of their strike by a day as a mark of respect to the late Queen, but today pickets were out in force.

The International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) said the action was the result of “a failure by Mersey Docks and Harbour Company (MDHC), a subsidiary of Peel Ports, to honour promises on pay, and profiteering”.

Dockers at both Felixstowe and Liverpool are members of Unite and have been negotiating for inflation-level pay increases with their respective employers, who claim they have made generous offers, rejecting calls to meet higher wage demands.

Peel Ports COO David Huck, COO, said he was disappointed the union had rejected its offer of 8.3%, with a one-off payment of £750 for each member of staff, “after many months of negotiation”.

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

But Unite general secretary Sharon Graham argued that the employer “can afford to pay these workers a proper pay rise. They need to table a serious offer”.

Paddy Crumlin, ITF president and dockers’ section chair, said: “As the cost of essentials like food, energy and petrol continue to rise to astronomical levels, we are seeing employer after employer gouge profits at the expense of workers’ livelihoods and living standards. Working people have had enough – and that’s why 560 Liverpool dockers have walked out the gate on strike.

He added that Peel’s pay offer represented a cut in pay with the Retail Price Index now measuring inflation at 12.3%. He said international dockers unions would be supporting UK dockers until the dispute reached a settlement, joining picket lines.

Former Merseyside footballers Neville Southall and Jamie Carragher have voiced support for the Liverpool strikers, along with Liverpool West Derby MP Ian Byrne, who today joined the picket line.

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