Hundreds of new jobs at Port

AROUND 500 extra workers will be needed at Britain's biggest port this year – mainly due to an unprecedented number retiring, it was revealed today.Felixstowe port is set to lose 300 workers over the next 12 months as they reach retirement age, with many having worked on the quaysides and in the warehousing divisions since the late 1960s or early 1970s.

AROUND 500 extra workers will be needed at Britain's biggest port this year - mainly due to an unprecedented number retiring, it was revealed today.

Felixstowe port is set to lose 300 workers over the next 12 months as they reach retirement age, with many having worked on the quaysides and in the warehousing divisions since the late 1960s or early 1970s.

As well as replacing those it is losing, the container terminal will also need another 200 recruits to keep up with its expansion and growing business.

Last year it took on 200 new workers and in 2003 nearly 300 workers joined the port, which currently has around 2,800 direct employees as well as providing work for thousands more in haulage, shipping offices and other work.

Corporate affairs manager Paul Davey said: "We have a lot of people who have been at the port 20 and 30 years and it has been a large part of their life.

"But this then does open up opportunities for other people to work here and pursue careers in the shipping industry."

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It is understood the vast majority of workers will be needed to work on and support the quayside activities and will be expected to work a range of shifts.

Those who have been at the port for decades joined the industry at a time when working on the quayside was a highly-paid job with lucrative over-time.

Over the years the pay structure has changed through a series of negotiations, changes to the work practices and restrictions on hours.

In 2003, new quayside workers were receiving a minimum of £288 a week plus some over-time. This has risen slightly in the past two years.

The port contributes more than £70m a year in wages to the local economy, plus the wages of thousands more in port-related businesses.

It is also set to announce this week orders for millions of pounds more equipment to boost cargo-handling and the terminal's efficiency.

n What do you think of the port's recruitment drive? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk