Liverpool dockworkers back strike action

Union members at the Port of Liverpool have voted in favour of strike action for a pay increase.

Trade union Unite reported 88% turnout and 99% support for industrial action from those who voted among more than 500 of its members working in the Liverpool port, which will therefore see the union reject a 7% pay offer.

Unite national coordinator Steven Gerrard called on port operator MDHC, which is part of Peel Ports, to “come back with a deal that meets our members expectations”, adding that “the responsibility for Liverpool container docks grinding to a halt will lie firmly with MDHC”.

Liverpool handles more than 75,000 Teu and more than 60 vessels each month.

The union has not yet set a date for the potential strike at Liverpool, instead reported that a second strike authorization vote was commencing.

A voting among 60 maintenance engineers who also are employed by MDHC could see them strike over the same pay offer. That ballot closes on August 24th.

Unite has rejected a similar 7% wage increase along with a lump sum payment proposed by the Port of Felixstowe. As with Liverpool, they called the offer inadequate and refused to continue talks after the mediation efforts failed a week ago. Unite has scheduled an eight-day strike at Felixstowe that is due to begin on August 21st.

Denmark-based shipping company Maersk advised customers that it intended to try and reroute vessels either in the ports before the strike or hold traffic until labour was available at the port.

In a just-released analysis, UK’s Russell Group has warned that the proposed strike at the port of Felixstowe could result in over $800m in trade being disrupted. Clothing ($82.8m) and electronic components ($32.3m) would be the commodities that would be most impacted by the strike.  The analysis was based on previous trade flows at Felixstowe in this August period. 

Suki Basi, Russell Group MD said that “the disruption at Felixstowe spells more uncertainty for businesses, consumers and governments alike. Ports across the globe are facing congestion, due to a large backlog caused by the pandemic.