Liverpool dockers resume strike as union demands 12.3% pay rise

Liverpool dockers resume strike as union demands 12.3% pay rise

Liverpool dockers resume WEEK-long strike after 132 workers received redundancy notices – as union demands 12.3% pay rise for members

  • Dockers in Liverpool returned to the picket line today in row over jobs and pay
  • Unite members rejected a below-inflation pay offer from port operator Peel Ports
  • Peel Ports said it has offered a ‘generous and realistic’ pay offer of 10.2%
  • However, Unite is demanding a pay rise in line with inflation – currently 12.3% 

Dockworkers in Liverpool returned to the picket line again today in a row over jobs and pay.  

Unite dockworkers announced they were staging a week-long walkout from October 11-17 after rejecting a below-inflation offer from Peel Ports – operator of the Port of Liverpool.

Peel Ports said today it has written to Unite bosses asking them to call of the latest round of strike action and give employees on a direct vote on the company’s final 10.2 per cent pay offer.

Meanwhile, the union said this figure was not being offered for all grades and is demanding a pay rise in line with inflation (RPI) which is currently 12.3 per cent.

Dockworkers, who are members of Unite, in Liverpool today have staged a walkout over jobs and pay after the union rejected a below-inflation pay offer

Dockworkers in Liverpool returned to the picket line again today in a row over jobs and pay with Peel Ports

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: ‘Peel Ports’ plan is to pile up even more profit at the expense of its workers and their families.

‘These regurgitated, months-old plans are simply a desperate attempt to intimidate workers. It won’t work.’

‘The employer MDHC is part of Peel Ports, which recently reported a record profit before tax of £141 million, greater than the entire wage bill for the year.

‘Peel Ports has paid out more than £300 million in dividends over the last five years.’

But Peel Ports is calling for all employees to have a ‘confidential and democratic’ say on an offer, which they say would increase the average annual take-home pay for Port of Liverpool container terminal staff to £43,000.

Peel Ports chief operating officer David Huck said: ‘We have made Unite the Union a very generous and realistic final offer of 10.2 per cent but they have so far refused to allow staff to vote on it via an independent postal ballot.

Unite is demanding a pay rise in line with inflation (RPI) which is currently 12.3 per cent – while Peel Ports have given a final offer pay increase of 10.2 per cent

A dockworker on the picket line in Liverpool today, as the row over jobs and pay continues

‘What possible reason would they have to reject that?

‘A significant number of employees have raised concerns with us about the recent ballot process.

‘We have therefore written to Unite leaders today asking them to give their members a proper vote, rather than simply relying on a show-of-hands in mass meetings involving only a small minority of employees, which is clearly an outdated and far from satisfactory way of gauging responses.

‘As employers, we have moved a long, long way in our discussions and have more than doubled our original pay increase, which is now two per cent higher than any other port operator in the UK. 

‘And that’s against a backdrop of falling container volumes and a real tightening of the market.’

He added: ‘We have written to Unite and would urge them to allow all the Port of Liverpool workers to have a secret ballot so we can bring an end to this self-defeating industrial action which is in no-one’s interests.’

Dockworkers, who are members of Unite, in Liverpool today have staged a walkout over jobs and pay after the union rejected a below-inflation pay offer

However, Unite disputes Peel Ports is offering a 10.2 per cent pay offer.

Unite national officer Robert Morton said: ‘Peel Ports is fudging the numbers. The 10.2 per cent figure is based on the maximum someone could earn if they work overtime on top of their weekly contracted hours.

‘If the company offered a clear 10.2 per cent rise for all grades we would take it to ballot.

‘The reality is that the company has offered our members around 8.3 per cent – some pay grades would receive less than that and others slightly more.

‘Our members have already overwhelmingly rejected this offer, which is nowhere near the RPI inflation rate of 12.3 per cent, during a vote in a mass meeting.

‘Unite would be happy to attend Acas, but the company has told us it will not budge on the 8.3 per cent offer.

‘There is no point conducting talks until the company agrees to negotiate on its position, which means being truthful about what it is actually offering.’

Unite is demanding a pay rise in line with inflation (RPI) which is currently 12.3 per cent – while Peel Ports have given a final offer pay increase of 10.2 per cent

Meanwhile, Unite have said the scope of the dispute has widened to include jobs after Peel Ports issued redundancy notices to 132 workers, saying that it is a ‘desperate’ move that makes no business sense.

The union accused the port operator of threatening redundancies which have ‘been proposed and dropped previously’.

They also said the port has already revealed it is looking to expand and that the latest move is simply a way of the company seeking to intimidate workers taking lawful industrial action in a long-running pay dispute. 

Mr Morton added: ‘Rather than enter into sensible negotiations, Peel Ports is making yet another cynical attempt to intimidate its workers. It is clear that they just want to avoid paying a fully affordable pay increase’. 

It comes amid a number of strikes by dockworkers across the UK. Last month, dockworkers at the UK’s biggest port Felixstowe, began their second eight-day strike today, with 1,900 Unite members walking out.

This followed a similar strike the previous week at Felixstowe in Suffolk, over a dispute about pay.

Two dockworkers pictured as the strike in Liverpool continues today, in a dispute with Peel Ports over jobs and pay

Dockworkers in Liverpool returned to the picket line again today in a row over jobs and pay with Peel Ports

The Unite trade union is requesting a 10 per cent pay increase for Felixstowe workers, but the port said it is ‘in the process of implementing a very fair pay increase of seven per cent plus £500’.

Unite described the seven per cent increase as a real-terms pay cut because of the soaring inflation rate.

Earlier this year, it was projected that strike action at the Port of Felixstowe could disrupt £700m worth of trade and will have a direct impact on brands such as Asda, John Lewis, Tesco and Marks & Spencer.

Experts warned that shortages could put pressure on the price of goods and fuel already-rampant inflation – perhaps even sending it through the roof by Christmas – as Britons face the most severe cost of living crisis in 60 years. 

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