Workers at two big British ports to strike later this month

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Workers at Britain’s biggest container port Felixstowe plan to stage a second eight-day strike over pay, the Unite union said on Tuesday, adding to a wave of industrial unrest caused by soaring inflation.

Fresh strikes are planned from Sept. 27 to Oct. 5 after port workers voted by an 82% majority to reject a 7% pay offer, Unite said in a statement.

“Further strike action will inevitably lead to delays and disruption to the UK’s supply chain but this is entirely of the company’s own making,” Unite national officer for docks Bobby Morton said, referring to port operator CK Hutchison (CKHUY).

With inflation having topped 10% in July and projected by the Bank of England to exceed 13% next month, Unite says the 7% pay offer represents a “real terms pay cut.”

“The collective bargaining process has been exhausted and there is no prospect of agreement being reached with the union,” Felixstowe port said in a notice on its website.

It added port authorities were “very disappointed” with news of the strike and were implementing the7% pay award plus 500 pounds ($585) backdated to Jan. 1, 2022.

The strike would follow a similar eight-day walkout at Felixstowe in eastern England last month, which clogged supply lines but fell short of causing widespread disruption in an industry already facing supply chain issues.

Elsewhere in Britain, more than 560 dockworkers at the Port of Liverpool, one of the country’s largest container docks, are set to go on strike from Sept. 19 to Oct. 3 over pay, Unite said earlier this month. Read full story

About 48% of all containers brought into the UK are transported through the Felixstowe port, according to Unite, making it an important import hub for Britain.

Another strike at Felixstowe would be the latest in a wave of industrial unrest across Britain this summer that has affected a range of industries, from aviation and transport to nurses and lawyers.

However, unions including Unite have in recent days suspended plans for industrial action in light of Britain’s 10-day mourning period following the death of Queen Elizabeth last week.

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