Liverpool port dispute escalates as two more weeks of strike announced

Nearly 600 Liverpool port workers will take two more weeks of strike action over pay and jobs from 24 October to 7 November, Unite, the UK’s leading union, said today (Friday).

Since the strikes at the docks began on 19 September, the workers have been subject to job threats despite plans to expand the port and untrue statements that they are being offered 10.2 per cent by the company. The real offer is around 8.2 per cent, a pay cut while the RPI inflation rate is at 12.3 per cent. 

Now it has been revealed that the company, which has paid out £300 million in dividends over the last five years and recently recorded pre-tax profits of £141 million, has agreed to pay its workers at shipbuilder Camel Laird in Birkenhead an 11 per cent increase.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said, “Peel Holdings is hugely profitable and can absolutely afford to pay our members a proper wage increase.  It did so at Camel Laird, so why not at Liverpool docks?

“Instead of negotiations to resolve this dispute, the company has chosen to threaten jobs and repeatedly mislead about the deal it has tabled.

“Our members are standing firm, and have their union’s complete support. The company must put forward a pay rise they can accept or this strike continues.”

The dispute is also over the failure to honour the dock workers’ 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. Meanwhile, Liverpool port made the company £30 million in profits last year.  

Unite national coordinating officer for free ports, Steven Gerrard, said, “If Peel had genuinely offered 10.2 per cent to all grades, we would ballot our members. But they haven’t, nor have they addressed their failure to implement 2021’s pay agreement. 

“Our members won’t put up with being treated as the second-class employees of the group. Unite’s message to Peel is ‘stop the threats and misleading statements and put a proper offer on the table’.”

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