Port strike is ‘damaging city region economy’

With the two-week strike by workers at the Port of Liverpool now in its second week a senior Peel Ports executive is urging workers to settle the dispute. Tony McDonough reports

Port of Liverpool workers with Unite general secretary Sharon Graham. Picture from Unite


Strike action at the Port of Liverpool risks damaging the city region economy, a senior executive at port owner Peel Ports says.

David Huck, Peel Ports Group’s chief operating officer urged workers at the port, and their union Unite, to consider “further and constructive engagement” with the company to resolve the dispute.

More than 560 Mersey Docks and Harbour Company Workers at the port at Seaforth walked out on Monday, September 19. They say their action will continue until Monday, October 3.

In August 88% of the workers took part in a strike ballot organised by 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 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.

Mr Huck said: “Our concern is on the impact a sustained period of industrial action will have on many of the gains the city region’s economy has made over the last two decades.

“The investments Peel Ports have made over the years have restored Liverpool’s position as a global gateway to the north of England and the UK.

“When we invested in Liverpool2, the port’s deep-sea container terminal, we recognised that for the hundreds of jobs we create, thousands more are created in the wider logistics and maritime sectors across the city region.

“We can also see that many other businesses derive value from the efficiency of using a strong and reliable port like Liverpool. That’s why this dispute is damaging not only for us, but it is bad for business, jobs and the city’s economy.”

In the last few days Unite general secretary Sharon Graham has visited the picket line outside the port. Addressing the workers she said: “I’m really proud to be here standing shoulder to shoulder with you today.

“We are going to stand with you until you have won. Because this is the real power of workers and the working class. We will not accept pay cuts. We will not accept the way we are being treated.

“The lies that are being spun about you, and striking workers, is corporate spin. This company can afford to pay. Last year they made £141m in profit… that is bigger than their entire wage bill.”


Port of Liverpool
Strike action at the Port of Liverpool is planned to last until October 3


One striking dock worker, Paul Burgess, added: “The price of fuel’s increased , the price of food. Everything in the world as we know it is going up in price – apart from our wages.”

Mr said Peel Ports had been successful in persuading businesses to move their cargo to Liverpool or set up new support services in the past decade. It had overcome what he described as “legacy issues”. He said a prolonged dispute would act as a deterrent to investors.

He added: “For this reason, we’ve worked long and constructively with the unions, investing in training, transforming our safety culture and ensuring our pay awards keep ahead of inflation – even during the pandemic. This is also true for this year’s pay award and will be the same for the next one in the spring.”

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