Dock workers announce a further two-week stoppage at Port of Liverpool

Unite the Union pickets

Liverpool dock workers have upped the ante in their dispute with Port of Liverpool bosses by announcing further strikes later this month.

Around 600 staff, belonging to Unite the Union, have already carried out a two-week stoppage and are currently involved in a further week-long strike.

Bosses, who have urged the union to ballot their members, inflamed the situation further earlier this week by announcing 132 redundancies, leading to Unite claiming the dispute is now about pay and jobs.

Now, Unite has today (October 14) announced a further two-week stoppage, from October 24, to November 7.

The union claims workers have been subject to job threats, despite plans to expand the port and “untrue statements” that they are being offered 10.2% by the company when, it argues, the real offer is around 8.2%, which the union says is a pay cut while the RPI inflation rate is at 12.3%.

Today, Unite highlighted that the employer, which it says has paid out £300m in dividends over the past five years and recently recorded pre-tax profits of £141m, has agreed to pay its workers at shipbuilder Cammell Laird in Birkenhead an 11% increase.

Unite general secretary, Sharon Graham, said: “Peel Holdings is hugely profitable and can absolutely afford to pay our members a proper wage increase. It did so at Cammell Laird, so why not at Liverpool docks?

“Instead of negotiations to resolve this dispute, the company has chosen to threaten jobs and repeatedly mislead about the deal it has tabled.

“Our members are standing firm, and have their union’s complete support. The company must put forward a pay rise they can accept or this strike continues.”

The dispute is also over what Unite claims is the failure to honour the dock workers’ 2021 pay agreement. It says this includes the company not undertaking a promised pay review, which last happened in 1995, and failing to deliver on an agreement to improve shift rotas.

Unite national coordinating officer for free ports, Steven Gerrard, said: “If Peel had genuinely offered 10.2% to all grades, we would ballot our members. But they haven’t, nor have they addressed their failure to implement 2021’s pay agreement.

“Our members won’t put up with being treated as the second class employees of the group. Unite’s message to Peel is ‘stop the threats and misleading statements and put a proper offer on the table’.”

David Huck, chief operating officer at Peel Ports, said: “Unite’s decision to call a further two-week strike, against a backdrop of dramatic reductions in container volumes, is entirely self-defeating.

“The union’s refusal to allow an independent postal ballot of the whole workforce on our final 10.2% pay increase is very telling. This pay offer is greater than that of any UK port and we are disappointed they are resorting to the old fashioned, mass meeting show-of-hands, when we believe every single worker deserves the chance to have their say, without undue influence.”

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