Peel Ports has asked Unite to give all employees at the port of Liverpool the opportunity to vote on its current pay offer, after concerns were raised that the union was relying on a “show-of-hands” involving a fraction of the workforce.

The operator of Liverpool port said a significant number of its employees had told it that they were unhappy with the recent ballot process.

It has now asked Unite to call off the current strike action and give employees a direct vote on its final 10.2% pay offer.

Disruption at the port began last month after Unite rejected a 7% pay deal.

The latest round of strikes began on 11 October, with the union demanding port workers are given a pay rise in line with inflation, which it said was currently 12.3%.

However, the port has dug its heels in and said Unite was relying on less than 25% of the workforce in votes on strikes.

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It said its latest offer would increase average annual take-home pay for container terminal staff to £43,000.

David Huck, Peel Ports CEO, said: “We have made Unite the Union a very generous and realistic final offer of 10.2% but they have so far refused to allow staff to vote on it via an independent postal ballot. What possible reason would they have to reject that?

“A significant number of employees have raised concerns with us about the recent ballot process.

“We have therefore written to Unite leaders today asking them to give their members a proper vote, rather than simply relying on a show-of-hands in mass meetings involving only a small minority of employees, which is clearly an outdated and far from satisfactory way of gauging responses.”

However, this looked unlikely after Unite claimed this week that Peel Ports was attempting to intimidate workers by issuing formal redundancy notices and described the move as “desperate”.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Peel Ports’ plan is to pile up even more profit at the expense of its workers and their families. These regurgitated, months-old plans are simply a desperate attempt to intimidate workers.

“It won’t work.”