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A general view shows containers cranes and a docked ship at UK’s biggest container port Felixstowe, as workers begin an 8-day strike, in Felixstowe, Britain, Aug 21, 2022. --Photo Agencies

Dockers begin strike at UK’s largest port

(China Daily/ANN)  -- Nearly 2,000 workers at the United Kingdom’s busiest container port began an eight-day strike over pay on Sunday.
About 2,550 people work at the southern port of Felixstowe, which handles about 48 percent of the UK’s container trade.
The Felixstowe dock handles around 4 million containers a year from 2,000 ships, and the move could affect supply chains to supermarkets and other retailers, reported the BBC.
The Unite union said its members at the port rejected a 7 percent wage rise offer from management, reasoning this was below the rate of inflation. Union members are manning a picket line at the docks during each day of the walkout, which marks the first time in 30 years that workers at the port have gone on strike, according to the Associated Press. Port of Felixstowe management said they were “disappointed” that Unite did not “come to the table for constructive discussions to find a resolution”, reported the AP. “We’ve got a shrinking economy, we’re going into recession ... I think that’s a very fair offer indeed,” a port spokesperson said.The Guardian quoted Unite’s general secretary, Sharon Graham, as saying the port was “enormously profitable”.
Latest figures showed that in 2020 the port made 61 million pounds (US$72 million) in profits, said Graham, adding that its parent company, CK Hutchison Holdings Ltd, “is so wealthy that, in the same year, it handed out 99 million (pounds) to its shareholders”.
She said it was “clear” delivering multimillion-pound profits and dividends had been prioritised over “paying workers a decent wage”. The union said the walkout, involving crane drivers, machine operators and stevedores, will have a big impact on the port.
However, a spokesperson for the freight transport trade association Logistics UK told the BBC that the walkout was unlikely to cause severe disruptions as everything coming in to the dock is scheduled well in advance.
“Felixstowe is not a ‘just-in-time’ delivery port,” they said. “If it (the strike) goes on for longer than eight days then those using the port will be looking at alternative routes, but at the moment, there is plenty of stock in the supply chain.
“Others have already been planning alternative routes we’re not expecting panic.”
They added: “As an industry, we are incredibly flexible and have been working for a while to put these goods into alternative ports if they have to be.”
More public- and private-sector unions have announced walkouts as the UK faces its worst cost-of-living crisis in four decades. Postal workers, lawyers, and garbage collectors are all planning strikes, reported the AP.
Thousands of railway workers continued their walkouts over pay on Saturday.

(Latest Update August 23, 2022)

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