Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Angry Southampton union bosses hint at industrial action


STRIKES may be on the cards at the port after a major employer announced a devastating round of redundancies.
Union bosses have hit out at container port operator DP World Southampton who have confirmed that 41 workers face the axe.
They have accused them of exploiting the recession to force through redundancies and “threaten further casualties” in the industry.
Brendan Gold, Unite national secretary said: “We will not allow an international port operator to make compulsory redundancies and ignore our stewards’ proposals. It makes the consultation process a total sham.
“I have asked to meet the company at a senior level to resolve this issue. Management should be under no illusion our members are very angry. They are prepared to do all that is necessary to protect their livelihoods and working conditions up to and including industrial action.”
He went on to say all the options put forward by the union to protect jobs were rejected out of hand.
This latest blow comes after the Daily Echo revealed the world’s largest container firm Maersk Line is pulling one of its services out of the port in favour of Felixstowe, Suffolk.
Nobody from DP World Southampton was available to comment.
Over the last few weeks the port has been hit with a number of devastating bombshells and tensions have been rising among the 12,000 people who work there.
A change to the way port rates are collected left 25 port firms with a backdated tax bill of £3.75m.
At the same time the recession has cost the waterfront nearly 50 per cent of its car handling business and hit container volumes by around a tenth.
Another threat to the port is a proposed tax hike that could mean some of its biggest customers will face a 67 per cent increase. It is feared this massive rise will force many to leave Southampton in favour of cheaper foreign ports.
The Daily Echo has launched a campaign to stop this tax proposed by transport minister Jim Fitzpatrick.
Ports bosses, shipping experts, business leaders and MPs are among those to have thrown their weight behind the drive.

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