More than 500 dockers at the Port of Liverpool are set to go on strike and could bring one of UK’s largest container ports to a ‘grinding to a halt’.
Port operatives for the Mersey Docks and Harbour Company (MDHC), which is part of Peel Ports Group, voted in favour of industrial action in a ballot following an ‘inadequate 7% pay offer’.
With the UK inflation rate currently over 9% - and The Bank of England predicting it will reach 13% this year - Unite says the offer to workers amounts to ‘a real terms pay cut’.
In a ballot of Unite the Union members, 99% backed a proposal to walk out on an 88% turnout.
The union’s general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Our members at MDHC have Unite’s complete backing and support in these strikes for a fair pay rise.”
Details of a start date for the industrial action have not yet been released. The dockers are expected to be joined by 60 maintenance engineers when a separate ballot on strike action at MDHC closes on August 24.
Steve Gerrard, Unite national coordinator, said: “The responsibility for Liverpool container docks grinding to a halt will lie firmly with MDHC. Our members are struggling with rising living costs. It needs to come back with a deal that meets our members’ expectations.”
Peel Ports said it had offered a 7% increase to basic pay on top of a 4.5% pay increase last year, along with improvements to sick pay, night shift allowance and pensions.
Richard Mitchell, port director Liverpool containers at Peel Ports Group, urged Unite to keep negotiating in order to ‘find a resolution to avoid action’.
He added: “We’ve recruited an additional 150 staff for Port of Liverpool container operations over the last 12 months, investing significantly in training and safety, and today Peel Ports’ port operatives earn about 20% more than the Liverpool City Region average salary.”
Mr Mitchell said the firm had offered a 7% increase to basic pay and an increase to the night work allowance to £30 per week.
He added: “Our proposals would mean a combined pay increase of between 16% and 25% over the last three years, subject to different roles within the port, which include individual pay progression rates, a 3% rise in 2020 and a further 4.5% pay rise in 2021.”
Unite say the company has failed to honour its 2021 pay agreement and on a deal to improve shift rotas.