Port of Liverpool staff strike over rejected pay deal

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More than 560 port operatives and engineers employed by Peel Ports Group at the Port of Liverpool have begun a two-week strike in a dispute over pay.

The strike began yesterday (19 September) and will continue until 3 October. The employees, represented by trade union Unite, rejected a package that included a 7% increase in basic pay, plus 1.3% from pay rates and allowances, and a £750 one-off payment.

According to the organisation, the package equated to a 10% or £4,000 average increase in annual pay, backdated to June. It has also made a commitment to a shift pattern change that aimed to result in a 25% reduction in night shift working.

This package would increase the average salary for container operatives to around £43,000 per annum, above the Liverpool city region and national average.

However, according to Unite, the 7% offer was below the current 11.7% inflation rate, and that it did not address issues around agency pay rates, shift rotas, and a bonus payment agreed in a 2021 pay deal. The union also pointed to the business’ profits of £32 million last year as evidence that it could afford to pay staff more.

David Huck, chief operating officer of Peel Ports Group, said: “I am deeply disappointed Unite has rejected our significant pay package after many months of negotiation. This is bad news for our employees, families and other local employers. We fully recognise our colleagues’ concerns on the cost-of-living crisis, and that’s why we have responded with a pay package which represents a 10% average increase in annual pay.

“We have invested more than £1.2 billion over the last decade, transforming the prosperity of the region, creating more than 900 new skilled jobs and in turn supporting over 7,200 additional local jobs in the supply chain. We urge the union to work with us at the negotiating table so together we can find a resolution.”

Sharon Graham, general secretary at Unite, added: “Workers across the country are sick to death of being told to take a hit on their wages and living standards while employer after employer is guilty of rampant profiteering. The port’s owners need to table a reasonable offer and fulfil its previous pay promises.

“We know the money is there and the dock workers who made that money, deserve a decent share of the pie. Unite is wholly dedicated to prioritising the jobs, pay and conditions of its members and it will be giving our dock workers in Liverpool its complete support until this dispute is resolved.