Operations at Felixstowe port could grind to a halt next month after union members recorded a “massive” 92% vote in favour of strike action over pay.
The UK’s largest container terminal said Unite had agreed to its request to meet with conciliatory service ACAS next week in an effort to resolve the disagreement, but the union appeared resolute, describing the dispute as “of Felixstowe’s own making”.
It said the row centred on the port’s offer of a pay increase of just 5% to all its workers, which it said was an effective pay cut.
Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “The bottom line is this is an extremely wealthy company that can fully afford to give its workers a pay rise. Instead it chose to give bonanza pay outs to shareholders touching £100 million.
“Unite is focused on defending the jobs, pay and conditions of its members and we will giving 100% support to our members at Felixstowe.”
Strike action could cause considerable problems for haulage firms attempting to enter the port, which is responsible for 48% of the UK’s container trade.
A port spokesman said: “The company made what we believe to be a very fair offer and we are disappointed with the result of the ballot.
“The union has agreed to our request to meet with ACAS next week and we hope that any industrial action can be avoided.”