Liverpool docks braced for disruption after MDHC port operatives overwhelming strike vote

More than 500 port operatives will strike over an ‘inadequate’ seven per cent pay offer, which Unite, the UK’s leading union, said is a real terms pay cut. 

Workers will also strike over MDHC’s failure to honour the 2021 pay agreement. This includes the company not undertaking a promised pay review, which last happened in 1995, and failing to deliver on an agreement to improve shift rotas. 

In a ballot with an 88 per cent turnout, 99 per cent voted for strike action.

The strikes, the dates of which have not yet been set, will bring Liverpool container port, one of the largest in the country, ‘grinding to a halt’. 

MDHC, which made more than £30 million in profits in 2021, is owned by the Peel Group ­– based in the Isle of Man tax haven. 

The group’s majority owner is UK tycoon John Whittaker, who is worth more than £1.4 billion and is also based in the Isle of Man. The Australian investment fund, Australian Super, is the group’s second largest investor.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said, “What’s happening at MDHC is another example of why workers in this country have had enough. Once again, a profitable company controlled by a tax-exiled billionaire is refusing to give its workers a cost-of-living pay rise. Our members at MDHC have Unite’s complete backing and support in these strikes for a fair pay rise.”

Maintenance engineers at MDHC could also go on strike over the same pay offer. An industrial ballot of more than 60 engineering staff opened yesterday (Monday 15 August) and closes on 24 August.

Strikes by either group of workers will a severe impact on both shipping and road transport in Liverpool and the surrounding areas.

Unite national coordinator Steven Gerrard said, “The responsibility for Liverpool container docks grinding to a halt will lie firmly with MDHC. Our members are struggling with rising living costs, yet MDHC, which is awash with cash, puts forward a completely inadequate offer. It needs to come back with a deal that meets our members expectations.”

Over 1,900 port of Felixstowe workers, who are members of Unite, are also taking strike action later this month over pay. 


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