Container hauliers will face “severe disruption” at Liverpool Port this month after more than 560 port operatives and maintenance engineers voted in favour of staging a two-week strike.
The warning was made by union Unite as it revealed that its members at the port had voted to take strike action from 19 September to 3 October, after rejecting a 7% pay offer from port operator MDHC.
The union said that a 7% pay offer amounts to a pay cut, since the Retail Price Index is at 12.3% and rising.
It added that the workforce was also striking in protest at the failure of MDHC to honour the 2021 pay agreement.
Unite said this includes the company not undertaking a promised pay review, which it said last happened in 1995, and failing to deliver on an agreement to improve shift rotas.
The union also highlighted MDHC’s £30m profit in 2021. Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “MDHC is controlled by a tax-exiled billionaire and can well afford to pay these workers a proper pay rise.
"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. MDHC needs to think again, table a reasonable offer and fulfil its previous pay promises.”
MDHC is owned by the Peel Group, which is based in the Isle of Man tax haven. The group’s majority owner is UK tycoon John Whittaker, who is worth more than £1.4bn and is also based in the Isle of Man. The Australian investment fund, Australian Super, is the group’s second largest investor.
Unite is warning that the strike action will “severely disrupt” both shipping and road transport in Liverpool and the surrounding areas.
It added that more strikes are set to be scheduled in the coming weeks if MDHC fails to put forward an acceptable offer to the workers.
Unite lead officer for freeports, Steven Gerrard, said: “MDHC has refused to honour the previous pay pledges it made to our members and is refusing to put forward an acceptable pay rise now. It has no one else to blame for the disruption that will be caused.
“MDHC needs to deliver on the agreements it made in 2021 as well as tabling an offer our members can accept for 2022.”
David Huck, chief operating officer at Peel Ports Group, said the firm was disappointed by the decision after offering a 8.3% pay package, which includes the 7% pay rise.
"Our pay offer is well above the national average and represents a sustainable position for the business, taking into account stagnation in the container market, worldwide economic pressures, the conflict in Ukraine and global shipping disruption," he added.
This latest strike action follows that of more than 1,900 Unite members at the port of Felixstowe who are also in dispute over pay.
Their last round of strike action took place between 21 August and 29 August.