Port workers edge closer to strike

Fresh talks will take place in the New Year over a proposed pay increase for port workers after a ballot indicated they would be willing to take industrial action.

FELIXSTOWE: Fresh talks will take place in the New Year over a proposed pay increase for port workers after a ballot indicated they would be willing to take industrial action.

Quayside workers said 1,577 voted in favour of action with 30 no votes and two spoiled ballot papers - rejecting the one per cent pay offer and sending a clear message to management.

It is now expected union officials from Unite, formerly the Transport and General Workers' Union, will meet bosses in early January to get management reaction and see if an improved pay offer will be made.

If no acceptable new offer is received, the next stage will be a postal ballot on industrial action.


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One port worker said: “Quite often we have seen a ballot like this being much closer - people sometimes have second thoughts when industrial action is mentioned and chicken out - but this will send a strong message to management about how people are feeling.”

Another worker said: “The strength of feeling is huge - it's been a very busy year and we took a big pay cut to help the company.”

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Union officials apparently asked the company for 5pc plus a �500 lump sum for each worker to make up for the two days' compulsory unpaid leave workers had to take this year as part of the earlier cuts.

Changes this year included scrapping of all bonus schemes, compulsory unpaid leave, axing of the “hot seat” changeover payments, removal of canteen subsidies, and closure of the port on Boxing Day.

Phil Pemberton, convenor for Unite, was not available for comment.

Paul Davey, head of corporate affairs for the Port of Felixstowe, said the company did not comment on union ballots.

Are you a port worker - what do you think? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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