Port workers celebrate pay boost
LOW-paid portworkers can afford to splash out on a celebration – after receiving a massive pay rise for which they have campaigned for years.Although bosses at Felixstowe will not confirm figures, it is understood around 300 of those on the lowest wages will receive increases of around 25 per cent, around £100 a week.
By Richard Cornwell
LOW-paid portworkers can afford to splash out on a celebration – after receiving a massive pay rise for which they have campaigned for years.
Although bosses at Felixstowe will not confirm figures, it is understood around 300 of those on the lowest wages will receive increases of around 25 per cent, around £100 a week.
There has long been anger at the port over the difference in pay of many newer recruits, known as blue contract workers, and those established employees, called green contracts.
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Workers have found themselves working side by side on the quays – one paid far more for doing exactly the same job.
But now the blues and greens are being abolished and everyone will be paid the same, which means a big rise for some of the blues.
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Paul Davey, corporate affairs manager for the port, said the changes were part of wide-ranging ongoing discussions on restructuring the workforce to increase productivity, efficiency and service levels.
Management had worked extremely closely with the union and taken into account the results of a confidential survey of the workforce's views, carried out by independent consultants.
"Although we never referred to them as the blues and greens, the different types of contract have now effectively disappeared," said Mr Davey.
"Instead, we are going to have an apprenticeship scheme for new workers for their first three years, during which they will be trained, and after which they become fully-fledged portworkers and move up to the main pay band."
The new arrangements meant 300 greens who have been at the port for three years and meet training criteria will move up to the higher wages immediately.
Mr Davey said it was not possible to give details of how much the increases would be as there were different rates of pay for different grades and jobs. However, the rises were "significant".
New recruits at the port – which employs 2,600 – receive £288 a week, while blues who had been there longer would be now be earning just over £300.
Green contracts were, prior to this year's pay rises, earning around £435 a week. All staff can work overtime to boost their pay and there are also productivity incentives.
Mr Davey said: "We have worked very closely with the unions on these changes – no changes are imposed and everything is decided by agreement. It is very much a partnership approach."
Senior convenor for the Transport and General Workers' Union, Geordie Landles was not available for comment.
n The extra wages will be a huge extra investment into Felixstowe's economy, along with plans to take on 150 more quayside workers and possibly a further 150 in the first six months of next year.
Mr Davey said a recruitment day held at the weekend attracted great interest with around 300 people attending.