Port of Liverpool to cut jobs from its 850-strong workforce due to ‘sustained and significant deterioration’ in container volumes. Tony McDonough reports
Port of Liverpool owner Peel Ports is looking to cut up to 125 jobs at the Seaforth terminal.
Due to a “sustained and significant deterioration” in container volumes at the port, the management said the decision was “extremely regrettable but unavoidable”. It has started redundancy consultations with staff in the container division.
Peel’s Liverpool Containers Division adds that “where possible, every effort will be made to redeploy affected staff to alternative roles within the business”. There are around 850 people employed at the port.
Estimates show that in the first half of 2023 there was a drop in UK container volumes of around 12%, following a 7% decline in 2022. Economic and industry forecasts show that no meaningful improvement is expected in the near future.
These declines are due to a combination of factors. They include weaker consumer demand for manufactured goods as a direct result of inflation, recession concerns fuelled by rising interest rates and wider geopolitical issues.
Following discussions with Unite the Union officials on Friday, the company is scheduled to start issuing formal consultation notices to the union and employees. The consultation is expected to take 45 days.
In November last year the port came to an agreement with union leaders following a bitter pay dispute that led to several walkouts.
Ian Cressey, port director, Liverpool Containers Division, said: “This is a decision we have been wrestling with for many months and it’s the last thing anyone at the port wants to face.
“We deeply regret the impact this will have on our people, but the sustained and significant deterioration in the global container market has forced our hand.
“These are challenges being faced by every other port operator in the market and we’ve done everything possible to safeguard jobs despite markedly declining global container volumes over the past two years.
“However, we’ve now, very reluctantly, had to take the difficult but responsible decision to bring our operations more in line with what are some of the most challenging market conditions we’ve seen in many years. It’s extremely regrettable, but unavoidable.”
“We will, of course, provide all the support we can to colleagues affected at this difficult time, working with them throughout the whole process.”
The port has said it will accept voluntary redundancies and is committed to offering career transition advice and support, as well as assistance in finding new employment to affected employees, if this is required.