Port of Liverpool operator Peel Ports is urging more than 500 dock workers to ‘keep talking’ amid an imminent strike over a pay offer described as ‘inadequate’. Tony McDonough reports
Port of Liverpool operator Peel Ports is asking more than 500 Liverpool dockers not to strike in a dispute over pay and instead “keep talking”.
Workers at the Mersey Docks and Harbour Company (MDHC), which is part of Peel Ports, are unhappy at the current 7% pay rise on offer. They are also unhappy at what they say is a failure to improve shift rotas and have voted to take strike action.
Of the 88% of workers who took part in the ballot, 99% voted in favour of taking action. A date for the walkout has yet to be set but Unite the union says the current pay offer represents a real terms pay cut.
Richard Mitchell, port director Liverpool Containers at Peel Ports Group, said: “Our offer of 7% is on top of a rise of 4.5% last year. It includes other improvements to shifts, sick pay and pensions, which further complements a decade of industry leading pay awards.
“We urge Unite to keep talking with us so together we can find a resolution to avoid action that will be bad news for the sector, businesses and families, with the effects being felt for many months to come, at a time when container volume demand has started to reduce.
“We’ve recruited an additional 150 staff for Port of Liverpool container operations over the last 12 months, investing significantly in training and safety, and today Peel Ports’ port operatives earn about 20% more than the Liverpool city region average salary.
Pell is offering a 7% increase to basic pay and an increase to the night work allowance to £30 per week. It claims its proposals would mean a combined pay increase of between 16% and 25% over the last three years.
Other workers at the port are also balloting whether to strike over the same pay offer. More than 60 MDHC engineering staff are taking part in the ballot which closes on August 24.
Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “What’s happening at MDHC is another example of why workers in this country have had enough.
“Once again, a profitable company controlled by a tax-exiled billionaire is refusing to give its workers a cost-of-living pay rise. Our members at MDHC have Unite’s complete backing and support in these strikes for a fair pay rise.”