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Dockworkers at the port of Liverpool are set to walk out on 19 September for two weeks of industrial action after rejecting the management’s proposals over the latest contract renewal.
Port owner Peel Group had upped its offer from 7% to 8.3%, but with inflation now above 12% and forecast to reach 18% within the year, Liverpool’s 560 port operatives and maintenance engineers claim it is effectively a pay cut.
Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “[Liverpool] is controlled by a tax-exiled billionaire and can well afford to pay these workers a proper pay rise.
“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. [The port] needs to think again, table a reasonable offer and fulfill previous pay promises.”
Last year, the port generated more than £30m in profits and sources in the industry said that, with the cost of food and other essentials having risen well above the rate of inflation, the tabled offer was “laughable”, but also acknowledged the strike would create significant headaches for the industry.
One forwarder told The Loadstar: “It’s a long strike and, given we have a fair amount coming in and going out, we will be working towards a resolution.”
In a communique to the industry, port director Richard Mitchell said Peel’s latest offer factored-in “challenges brought on by the cost-of-living crisis” and, that at 8.3%, the tabled offer was “industry-leading”.
He added: “I am certain you will share our disappointment at this situation, which is affecting many industries across the UK. We take pride in being a high-quality employer with a track record in creating quality, well-paid jobs with salaries 20% greater than the Liverpool City region average. Rest assured, we will continue to encourage talks with Unite to find a resolution and avoid this strike.”
However, after the union claimed Peel failed to honour several promises from 2021’s pay agreement, including the first pay review in 27 years and improving shift rotas, workers have remained steadfast.
Unite lead officer for freeports Steven Gerrard said: “It has refused to honour previous pay pledges and is refusing to put forward an acceptable pay rise now. [The port] has no one else to blame for the disruption that will be caused.”
Several operators announced late last month they were already working on contingency plans while awaiting details on when strikes would take place, with CMA CGM informing customers it would be using alternate gateways.