More than 560 workers at the Port of Liverpool will walk out for two weeks after talks over a pay dispute broke down. Tony McDonough reports
More than 560 Mersey Docks and Harbour Company Workers at the Port of Liverpool will walk out for two weeks in a dispute over a new pay offer.
Port operatives and maintenance engineers will take strike action from Monday, September 19 to 6am on Monday, October 3. David Huck, chief operating office at port owner Peel Ports, said the company was “very disappointed” at the decision.
In August 88% of the workers took part in a strike ballot organised by union leaders at Unite. 99% voted in favour of strike action. Following the ballot Peel Ports urged the union and the workers to “keep talking”. But those talks have failed to reach a resolution.
Unite claims the company has offered a rise worth just 7%. However, Peel Ports claims its latest offer is worth 8.3%. Either way, with inflation now above 10% and likely to rise further, Unite says the offer falls short of what is needed to help people with the cost of living crisis.
General secretary Sharon Graham said: ““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. MDHC needs to think again, table a reasonable offer and fulfil its previous pay promises.”
Staff are also striking over what Unite claims is a failure to honour the 2021 pay agreement. This includes the company not undertaking a promised pay review, which last happened in 1995, and failing to deliver on an agreement to improve shift rotas.
Mr Huck added: “While we fully appreciate our colleagues’ concerns on the rising cost of living, we have proposed an industry leading pay package of 8.3%.
“This is all in addition to a 4.5% increase in 2021, with improvements to shifts, sick pay and pensions, and following continuous and above-average pay awards over the last ten years.
“Our pay offer is well above the national average and represents a sustainable position for the business, taking into account stagnation in the container market, worldwide economic pressures, the conflict in Ukraine and global shipping disruption.
“We will continue to urge Unite the Union 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.”
Over the past 12 months, Mr Huck said, the Port of Liverpool had recruited an additional 150 staff. He also claimed Liverpool port operatives earn 20% more than the Liverpool city region average.
“Peel Ports has invested £500m into the Port of Liverpool container terminals, as part of a £1.2bn investment programme over the last 10 years to support sustainable business growth, creating over 400 quality new jobs,” said Mr Huck
“Today we have over 200 CVs on file from applicants awaiting recruitment opportunities at the Port of Liverpool.”