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British trade union confirms two-week strike action at Port of Liverpool container division

British trade union Unite has confirmed that more than 560 port operatives and maintenance engineers will take strike action from 06:00 (local time) Monday 19 September to 06:00 Monday 3 October at the Port of Liverpool.

Peel Ports, the operator of the UK container port, said the move is designed to disrupt operations at the port after a pay package of 8.3% was rejected by the union, and following demands for greater pay increases. On the other side, the union stated that a 7% pay offer is a pay cut with the real rate of inflation, RPI, at 12.3%.

Workers will also strike over the failure of MDHC, part of Peel Ports, to honour the 2021 pay agreement, according to Unite, which said that the company did not undertake a promised pay review, which last happened in 1995, and failed to deliver on an agreement to improve shift rotas.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham noted, "MDHC is controlled by a tax-exiled billionaire and can well afford to pay these workers a proper pay rise. 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."

David Huck, chief operating officer at Peel Ports Group, said, "Despite a series of meetings, we are very disappointed Unite has confirmed strike action by its Port of Liverpool Containers’ members."

Huck added, “Whilst 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."

“We will continue to urge Unite 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, at a time when container volume demand has started to reduce," noted Huck.

Unite warns that more strikes are set to be scheduled in the coming weeks if MDHC does not suggest an acceptable offer to the workers.

Unite lead officer for freeports, Steven Gerrard, said, "MDHC has refused to honour the previous pay pledges it made to our members and is refusing to put forward an acceptable pay rise now. It has no one else to blame for the disruption that will be caused. MDHC needs to deliver on the agreements it made in 2021 as well as tabling an offer our members can accept for 2022."

Meanwhile, more than 1,900 Unite members at the port of Felixstowe, another major container port in the United Kingdom, are also in dispute over pay. Their last round of strike action took place between 21 August and 29 August.

Antonis Karamalegkos
Managing Editor

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