With a two-week strike at the Port of Liverpool still continuing union leaders have announced a further seven-day walkout in October. Tony McDonough reports
Industrial unrest is spreading at the Port of Liverpool with union leaders now announcing there will be a further seven-day walkout in October – with even more staff involved.
This week more than 560 Mersey Docks and Harbour Company Workers at the port at Seaforth are in their second week of strike action in a pay dispute. The walkout began on September 19 and will continue until October 3.
Now Unite the union has revealed the dock workers will walk out again from October 11 to October 17. And this time they will be joined by senior control room operators, taking the total number taking action to more than 600.
Unite added the port’s dock masters, shift managers and vessel traffic services officers are also preparing to be balloted for strike action. It claims the combined impact of so many people striking means the entire port will become “inoperable”.
In August 88% of dockside 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.
Port owner Peel Ports is offering an 8.3% rise. But with inflation still hovering around 10% the union says the offer falls short of what is needed to help people with the cost-of-living crisis.
The dispute is also over what is claimed is the MDHC’s failure to honour a 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.
Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “The anger amongst MDHC’s staff at the greed of this hugely profitable firm and its billionaire owner John Whittaker reaches from one end of the company to the other.
“Our members will not back down and neither will Unite. MDHC needs to keep its previous pay promises and put forward a proper pay rise now.”
In a statement Peel Ports said: “We have offered a very significant 8.3% pay package, and a £750 one off-payment, which would ensure the staff involved are among the best-paid in the industry. So it’s disappointing that further, damaging strike action has been scheduled.
“We can assure all our non-container customers that their port operations will continue as normal during this period.”