Pressure for prompt settlement of Felixstowe port dispute
Efforts are underway to resolve the 8-day strike at the UK port of Felixstowe. Hutchison Ports’ spokesman Paul Davey said that the company was prepared to return to the negotiating table, provided the Unite union suspend the strike and its members return to work. Unite called on the company to increase its pay offer first, according to WorldCargo News.
In calling for an improved pay offer, the Unite union has called for conditions on a par with those enjoyed by workers at Hutchison’s Dutch concessions. The latest 4-year labour agreement for ECT and Euromax includes automatic adjustment for the official rate of inflation, plus an annual pay increase of 1.5%. On top of that, FNV Havens reported, workers in “heavy work” can retire at 65, two years before the Dutch official retirement age of 67, with the bridging finance paid for by Hutchison. In addition, ECT’s contracts with shipping lines include an automatic inflation compensation clause.
Over 30 ships are affected by the 8-day strike. Some calls were diverted before the strike and imports are being fed in from ports such as Le Havre and Antwerp. A court-imposed moratorium on a ports strike in Germany expires on 26 August, so feedering from Wilhelmshaven may become very difficult if Ver.di calls more strikes and work stoppages.