Monday, 30 March 2009

DP World confirms Southampton Container Terminal job losses

OVER 60 jobs are to be axed at DP World-owned Southampton Container Terminal, equivalent to around 10% of the directly employed workforce, with the company citing the global economic downturn as the reason for the redundancies.

The large majority of those affected are manual workers, with the move making SCT the first major British port to enact compulsory blue collar job losses as a result of the crisis. The trade union Unite is threatening a ballot on industrial action unless management responds rapidly to a request for negotiations.

Under the initial proposals, 41 of the job losses involve so-called ‘single skill’ grades, such as straddle carrier drivers, and eight involve support controllers, with responsabilities including the placement of boxes. A dozen or so are in office-based roles.

The single skill workers were sent home on Friday at the start of a two-week individual consulation period during which they will not have to report to work, and put on four weeks’ notice of redundancy from 11 April, which again does not have to be worked out.

A Unite spokesperson said: “We don’t accept any compulsory redundancies at the terminal. A ballot will be the next course of action if the meeting we have requested doesn’t happen.”

Meanwhile, a senior ports industry source - who did not wish to be identified - said that to his certain knowledge, other ports around the country are also looking to cut payroll costs and more job losses in the sector are seen as inevitable.

Felixstowe, for instance, recently culled around 20 management and administration staff, and is reducing shifts and offering voluntary severance to manual grades.

SCT managing director Campbell Mason commented: “Job losses are extremely regrettable and we fully appreciate the impact that redundancies have on the livelihoods of individuals and their families.

“This is the first time in over 15 years that the terminal has implemented widespread reductions in manning but, like so many businesses in the current climate, we must take tough but necessary steps to ensure the terminal responds to the severe decline in UK containerised trade volumes.”

“The company’s proposals involve a reduction by approximately 60 jobs from across various areas of our employed workforce and there will be an even greater reduction of the contractor workforce retained by the terminal.”

Container volumes at Southampton are down by at least 10%, according to local newspaper reports, although SCT declined to discuss the issue of current throughput.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This is a wake up call for all of us to stick together and stop back biting at each other.