Shippers brace for Felixstowe and Liverpool walkouts – a double whammy
Strikes at the key container ports of Felixstowe and Liverpool commenced at the latter on the 19th September and will continue to the beginning of October, with dates overlapping for maximum disruption.
Dock workers began their planned two-week strike at Liverpool port on Monday, 19th September, while an eight-day at Felixstowe, the UK’s busiest port, will begin on the 27th September.
The port of Liverpool strike will continue to the 3rd October, while the Felixstowe strike will run until the 5th October, which means that strike action will overlap for seven days, increasing the potential for disruption, while putting more pressure on London Gateway and Southampton.
The Unite Union blamed the Felixstowe Dock and Railway Company for unilaterally ending pay talks, after refusing to improve its pay offer and imposing a pay deal of 7% on the workforce.
The 7% increase was already rejected in August, which resulted in an eight-day strike at Felixstowe between Monday 22nd August and Monday 29th August.
Unite members at Liverpool port rejected a pay increase of 8.3% and a one-off payment of £750, stating that the wage increase would be a pay cut in real terms, with the union seeking a deal iro 20%.
Peel Ports argued that the basic pay of their Liverpool employees has increased above inflation by 16-26% every year for over a decade.
The previous Felixstowe strike saw vessel calls drop from 29 to 5, with many carriers calling at alternative ports or just delaying calls to avoid disruption.
The first Felixstowe strike happened before peak shipping really got underway, but these walkouts in Suffolk and Liverpool coincide with the beginning of the peak arrivals, in late September and early October.
As with earlier disputes, we will be focused on clearing cargo from terminals ahead of strike dates. We will make use of London Gateway and Southampton when appropriate and consider alternatives like Rotterdam or Hamburg, should the situation warrant.
We are in continuous contact with all our shipping line partners to assess their contingency plans and mitigate the impact of these strikes.
We will continue to monitor and manage the emerging situation and will keep you updated should there be any significant developments.
As with previous industrial action, we are well prepared, with contingency plans in place to protect supply chains and work around points of disruption.