Port of Liverpool: Unite the Union confirms a further two weeks of strike action for dockers

Port of Liverpool: Unite the Union confirms further two weeks of strike action for dockers

Unite the Union has confirmed that Liverpool dockers will begin new strike action from October 24 to November 7.

They said an offer from port owner Peel Holdings was worth around 8.2% and therefore a real-terms wage cut when compared with inflation.

Liverpool port workers began seven days of strike action against Mersey Docks and Harbour Company’s (MDHC) ‘inadequate’ pay offer, on October 11.

Dock workers on strike at the Port of Liverpool

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

Unite General Secretary Sharon Graham said: “Peel Holdings is hugely profitable and can absolutely afford to pay our members a proper wage increase. It did so at Camel Laird, so why not at Liverpool docks?

“Instead of negotiations to resolve this dispute, the company has chosen to threaten jobs and repeatedly mislead about the deal it has tabled.

“Our members are standing firm, and have their union’s complete support. The company must put forward a pay rise they can accept or this strike continues.”

Following recent strike action, Peel Ports Group (PPG) issued redundancy notices to over 132 workers, stating redunancy was ‘regrettable’ but ‘unavoidable’.

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% and then 10.2% but workers rejected the proposals.

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

On Tuesday, September 20, 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 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.

In terms of redunancy, a spokesperson said: “While this is an extremely regrettable situation, as a responsible employer, we need to restructure now in order to minimise the potential greater impact the downturn in container business will have on jobs, further down the line.

“We are exploring a number of different options to try and protect as many jobs as possible, including redeploying staff in other areas of the business which are less exposed to the economic crisis.

“Our aim is to grow the business further and create more jobs, not lose them. Every effort is being made to safeguard and protect as many jobs as possible and keep redundancies to a minimum.”