Thursday, 17 December 2009

Port workers set to vote for strike action

QUAYSIDE workers at Britain's biggest container port today begin voting on the possibility of industrial action after rejecting a pay offer.
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 what package people are on.
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.
Union officials had apparently asked the company for five per cent 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.
Last minute negotiations yesterday failed to bring a breakthrough, with no new offer from management on the table.
Over the next few days, the four shifts at the port will all vote on whether they would be prepared to take part in a strike ballot.
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.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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