Port of Liverpool: 600 workers to walk out as Unite announces fresh strike action

  • Hundreds of dock workers to stage new round of industrial action
  • Fears Port of Liverpool could “become inoperable”

Liverpool port workers will stage seven-day strike action against Mersey Docks and Harbour Company’s (MDHC) ‘inadequate’ pay offer meaning the port could become ‘inoperable’.

Unite the Union has announced senior control room staff and operators at the Port of Liverpool control room will join hundreds of dock workers in a week-long strike commencing October 11.

Dock workers on strike at the Port of LiverpoolDock workers on strike at the Port of Liverpool
Dock workers on strike at the Port of Liverpool

More than 500 dockers have already staged industrial action by walking out of one of the UK’s largest container ports hours after the Queen’s funeral.

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.”

Why are dock workers at the Port of Liverpool on strike?

Peel Ports, who own MDHC, initially offered a  7% increase to basic pay but Unite the Union stated that the offer would not meet the level of rising UK inflation and would amount to a ‘a real terms pay cut’.

In September, the MDHC improved their offer to around 8.3% but workers rejected the proposal.

The union’s general secretary Sharon Graham said that the pay rise did not meet Liverpool port workers expectations and accused employees within MDHC of “rampant profiteering”.

On Monday, September 19, just a few hours after the Queen’s funeral, Members of Unite at the Port of Liverpool staged a two-week walkout - dramatically affecting operations at the port’s two container terminals, the Royal Seaforth Container Terminal (RSCT) and Liverpool2.

Famous scousers voiced their support for the strike including Jamie Carragher and Steven Graham.

Jamie Carragher said: “This is my message in support of the Liverpool dockers who are going on strike to improve the pay and work conditions of the whole workforce.

“I’m fully behind what you’re doing, you’ve got my support and backing.”

What the port owners have said

MDHC is owned by the Peel Group, Chief Operating Officer David Huck, said: “I am deeply disappointed Unite has rejected our significant pay package after many months of negotiation. This is bad news for our employees, families and other local employers.

“We fully recognise our colleagues’ concerns on the cost of living crisis, and that’s why we have responded with a pay package which represents a 10% average increase in annual pay.

Fears Port of Liverpool could "become inoperable" as 600 workers prepare to strikeFears Port of Liverpool could "become inoperable" as 600 workers prepare to strike
Fears Port of Liverpool could "become inoperable" as 600 workers prepare to strike

“The Port of Liverpool is a major employer in the Liverpool City Region. We have invested more than £1.2bn over the last decade, transforming the prosperity of the region, creating over 900 new skilled jobs and, in turn, supporting over 7,200 additional local jobs in the supply chain.

“We urge the union to work with us at the negotiating table so together we can find a resolution.”

The average salary for container operatives would increase to around £43,000 a year, significantly above the Liverpool City Region and national average, the company added.

When will the new Port of Liverpool strike begin?

Almost 600 Liverpool port workers will stage a new round of industrial action beginning on October 11 and ending on October 17, said Unite the Union.

Workers will be striking over the continued dispute over pay. According to Unite, with the real rate of inflation, RPI, at 12.3 per cent, workers will not accept the 8.3% offered.

Port’s dock masters, shift managers and vessel traffic services officers are also preparing to be balloted for industrial action.

Unite national coordinator for free ports Steven Gerrard said: “The disruption caused to the port of Liverpool and the supply lines that depend on it is entirely the fault of MDHC and Peel Ports.

“If even more staff walk out over the company’s insufficient pay offer, the entire port will literally become inoperable. The company can afford to put forward an offer our members can accept and must do so.”