Port workers appear happy with 3.6 per cent pay deal

FELIXSTOWE: Workers at Britain’s biggest container port have accepted a 3.6 per cent pay increase for this year, agreeing the settlement as soon as it was offered.

Union leaders held a mass meeting to put the management proposal to the workers and it is understood they were very happy with it in the light of the current economic circumstances.

Last year a pay row rumbled on for several months and workers voted for strike action after rejecting a 1.5pc pay rise and an extra �500 a head.

After experts from arbitration service ACAS were called in to help settle the dispute, port bosses slightly increased their offer and reintroduced bonuses.

The previous year employees faced cuts in salary of between 6pc and 11pc – depending on their package – as bonus schemes were scrapped, compulsory unpaid leave brought in, “hot seat” change-over payments axed, and canteen subsidies removed.

Although the port does not release figures of its throughput, it is understood that container levels recovered well last year after the drop of late 2008 and 2009.

Andrew Harston, port development director for Hutchison Ports UK, said: “From the depths of the gloom that characterised the industry at the height of the recession, volumes on the world’s major container trades have bounced back strongly.

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“We are certainly pleased to see that our customers are, once again, making money – it always makes our life easier when they are.

“Although the volume of containers moving globally was certainly very encouraging in 2010, there is still a lot of uncertainty in the market as to what 2011 has in store.

“We may not be out of the woods yet and we need to continue to adopt a realistic approach to our short-term forecasts and business planning.”

Commenting on the pay negotiations, Paul Davey, head of corporate affairs at the Port of Felixstowe, said: “We are pleased to have reached a settlement which was to the satisfaction of all parties.”

No one was available to comment from the Unite union.

? Port workers – are you happy with the settlement? Write to Your Letters, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or email eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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