Liverpool strike cancelled with union and employers close to deal
The latest round of strike action at the Peel Ports-operated Liverpool docks has been postponed ...
Union officials have accused the board of Liverpool Port operator, Peel Ports, of killing a deal agreed with the union last Thursday and instead looking to discredit workers’ representatives in a media campaign.
A Unite The Union official told The Loadstar that Peel Ports COO David Huck had agreed that a 10% pay increase, with outstanding pay issues from the 2021 deal, including a 0.3% increase for nightshift work, would be put to the union membership on Friday.
Franny Joyce, the Unite regional co-ordinator said: “We sat face to face with David Huck on Thursday [20 October] and agreed a deal to put to our members and he was going to the board. Then we got a message that we needed to have an urgent meeting on Friday, and the board intervened and took it off the table.”
According to Mr Joyce, the 10% was below the level of pay rise union members had wanted, but they had come to a compromise agreement to maintain port operations.
Mr Huck, meanwhile, released a statement on Friday through Peel Ports claiming the company had offered 11% and the union had refused to put it to its members through a postal vote, the union preferring a show of hands.
He said: “The fact that they [the union] have refused to give all employees an independent postal vote on this 11% offer, free from the pressures and undue influence of an outdated show of hands, is very telling. Our feedback from many, many workers is that they are in favour of accepting but are too reluctant to do so in a mass meeting.”
“The offer was put to the membership and they rejected the offer unanimously,” said Mr Joyce, adding that “employers cannot tell the union how they should conduct their business”.
Mr Joyce went on to deny that the current offer was 11%, explaining that there were three groups of staff at the docks in dispute – the port operatives working in Terminal 1, those in Terminal 2 and port engineers.
Both the Terminal 2 operatives and the engineers had already rejected a 9% pay increase, while the port operatives in Terminal 1 had been offered a 9.2% increase, with a 0.5% one off payment.
According to the union, Peel Ports is misrepresenting the offer, by conflating 2021 pay issues, with this year’s dispute.
“If he [David Huck] offers 11% we’ll have a deal,” said Mr Joyce, but he said that is not on the table.
Mr Huck argued that if the union really wanted to end the strike they would go to arbitration, but Mr Joyce said arbitrator ACAS would not be able to offer more money and the union membership had unanimously rejected the latest offer.
One thing that both sides do agree on is that the industrial action will be hugely damaging for the port of Liverpool.
Meanwhile, unconfirmed reports from Southampton port suggest dockers there are refusing to handle vessels diverted from Liverpool, in solidarity.