Threat of port strikes to Christmas

Dock workers at Felixstowe finished their first strike in over 30 years on Sunday, after members of the Unite union withdrew their labour for eight days in a dispute over pay, with Unite members at the Port of Liverpool announcing it is likely to follow suit within weeks.

The 1,900 workers at the UK’s largest port completed their walk-out over a 7% pay offer on Sunday evening, but were told by the port’s owners not to report for work until Tuesday, which meant they lost the opportunity to work vessels on overtime on bank holiday Monday and is an unfortunate sign of how acrimonious the situation may have become.

The port’s owner has gone on record saying the pay offer, which includes a £500 one-off bonus payment, was “very fair”, while Unite have said they will not put the offer to its members, as they want an improved pay offer in line with the rate of inflation of between 7% and 12.3% before doing that.

The union Unite warned it would set further strike dates if the company would not negotiate further, with Unite’s general secretary, Sharon Graham, suggesting industrial action at Felixstowe could continue until Christmas.

Our transport team managed to clear all of your containers from Felixstowe ahead of the strike and have coordinated haulage capability to collect inbound containers, as they are discharged from the vessel and cleared through customs, now the strike is over.

Export containers were redirected to other gateway ports on alternative vessels. Strategic planning has ensured that your products continue to flow through the supply chain, despite the challenges of the port closure.

Dates for any strike action have yet to be determined at the Port of Liverpool, but the workers’ position remains unchanged, with 500 set to walk out over an “inadequate” pay offer and carriers planning to use alternative UK or non-UK gateways as industrial action looms, to try to avoid further disruption.

While we continue to monitor and manage the situation at Felixstowe and other ports affected by industrial action, our focus remains the continuity of operations, to ensure that your supply chain is protected at all times.

To learn how we work around disruption and port congestion, please get in touch with our sea freight director, Andy Smith, who can advise on our preparations ahead of threatened industrial action.