Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Port vote result expected this week

UNION officials at Britain's biggest container port will this week announce the result of a vote which could take the workforce to the brink of industrial action.
It is understood the 2,700-strong workforce at Felixstowe was offered a one per cent pay rise - after earlier this year accepting changes to contracts which meant a “temporary pay cut” of between six and 11 per cent, depending on their contract package.
An initial ballot organised by the union Unite overwhelmingly rejected the offer with nearly 1,600 workers against the one pc and less than 20 in favour.(16 in favour)
Union officials had apparently asked the company for a five pc pay increase plus a £500 lump sum for each worker to make up for the two days compulsory unpaid leave workers had to take this year as part of the earlier cuts.
Over the past few days, the four shifts at the port have been voting on whether they would be prepared to take part in a strike ballot.( It's industrial action that we are balloting on not strike!)
If they vote yes, a postal ballot on industrial action will be organised. If they vote no, the one pc pay rise will be accepted.
One port worker said: “People are very frustrated.“
The port made us take huge pay cuts because of the recession but the situation hasn't been as bad as they predicted.
“They said there would be no work and we had to make sacrifices to keep our jobs, but the quays have not been empty and we have had a busy year.”
Changes this year included the scrapping of all bonus schemes, compulsory unpaid leave, axing of the “hot seat” changeover payments, removal of canteen subsidies, and closure of the port on Boxing Day.
Phil Pemberton, convenor for Unite, formerly the Transport and General Workers' Union, was not available for comment.
Paul Davey, head of corporate affairs for the Port of Felixstowe, said the company did not comment on union ballots.

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