Felixstowe: Union fears for port jobs if major customers switch to new container terminal
PUBLISHED: 12:49 21 March 2013 | UPDATED: 12:49 21 March 2013
JOBS at the Port of Felixstowe could be put under threat if a major customer switches to the new London Gateway terminal for a cheaper deal, according to union officials.
Executives at the £1.5billion complex – due to open on the north bank of the Thames between October and December this year – are known to be targeting customers of other ports, including those of Felixstowe.
They have so far made presentations to nearly 1,000 shippers, cargo owners, freight forwarders, road haulage and rail operators, at promotional events across the country and in Asia, as part of a drive for business for the port’s deep-sea berths.
The union Unite, which represents workers in the port and transport industries, is watching the situation closely and one of its regional representatives, Jane Jeffery, has expressed concern at the impact of any major shipping lines moving from established ports to London Gateway.
She said: “The problem that we have got is that as soon as a line pulls out of Felixstowe or Southampton or Tilbury, some of the jobs at those ports might be lost.
“There is already overcapacity in the UK’s container ports and we believe that this port should not be opened with the current overcapacity nationally.”
Unite is concerned that it will not be officially recognised at the new port.
Ms Jeffery told The Loadstar website: “We are presently seeing other port owners and management engaging in a race to the bottom to compete against London Gateway.
“We are concerned that should DP World embark on this course it could affect the future financial viability of the deepsea container ports at Southampton and Felixstowe/Harwich, where Unite is recognised.”
The Port of Felixstowe has a policy of not speaking about its rivals. The port – which recently rebranded itself as The Port of Britain – is continually seeking new business, promoting its strengths of location, road and rail connections, and productivity records.
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