Strike action has been confirmed at the Port of Felixstowe after members of the union Unite were balloted. Over 80 per cent of Unite’s members at the port replied with a resounding 92% voting in favour of action. Businesses up and down the UK will look at this in dismay. Considering the difficulties faced by shippers and importers this is not good news. Further disruption within the logistics supply chain as the country heads towards recession could be extremely damaging.
Despite the Felixstowe Dock and Railway Company offering a pay increase of 5% to it’s workers this was deemed not enough.
Unite say that 5% in real terms signals an actual pay-cut with RPI standing at almost 12% and it’s members deserve more. Unite have not yet confirmed any strike dates whilst they give Felixstowe port time to negotiate. The union through have confirmed that if the Port owners do not take advantage of this short window then strike action is inevitable.
Out of approximately 2550 people who work at the Port of Felixstowe 1800 are Unite members. If Unite pull all members out on strike this will paralyze the port completely. With the port handling 48% of UK container trade you can see the difficulties this would cause for all involved. Shipping Lines, Shippers, Importers, Hauliers and Freight Forwarders.
How will shipping lines react to strike action
If Strike action goes ahead then shipping lines will likely cut Felixstowe out of rotation. Diverting ships to other ports in the UK or more likely Europe. Felixstowe despite being Britain’s most important port does regularly have issues. High Winds close the port on a regular basis and we have seen ship’s skip the port and drop containers in European ports fairly regularly. Any encouragement for ships to skip UK ports cannot be good for the UK and UK Businesses.