Aug 21, 2022
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Workers at key UK cargo port start strike

Aug 21, 2022

It was news UK retailers didn’t want leading up to the important autumn, Black Friday and Christmas trading periods. Almost 2,000 workers at Felixstowe port have begun an eight-day strike over pay in a fresh round of industrial action hitting the economy and raising fears of further supply chain disruption.

Photo: Pixabay/Public domain

The Unite union warned of a “big disruption” to supply chains, admitting the stoppage at the port, which handles almost half the container freight entering the country, and that it will have a significant impact on UK supply chains and the logistics and haulage sectors.

However, a port source downplayed the warning, telling the PA news agency the strikes will be an "inconvenience not a catastrophe". The supply chain is used to disruption following the pandemic, he claimed. "Disruption is the new normal. The supply chain has moved from 'just in time to just in case'," he added.

According to the company, the Port of Felixstowe staff union, representing approximately 500 positions, voted to accept the same pay offer Unite had refused to put to its members.

However, Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said Felixstowe docks is "enormously profitable... the latest figures show that in 2020 it made £61 million in profits... so they can give Felixstowe workers a decent pay raise."

There were concerns this time last year that product shortages and higher costs would disrupt an already-stretched supply chain. So this latest news will only rekindle those concerns.

The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) has previously warned a combination of worker shortages and transport disruption would have an impact on stock levels. This time last year a CBI survey record showed record lows across retail and the distribution sector.

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