More than 500 dock workers are set to start weeks of strike action nowadays (20 September) in a dispute over pay and conditions which has attracted some of high-profile supporters. Dockers on the Port of Liverpool rejected an offer put forward by the operator, Mersey Docks and Harbour Company (MDHC) amid claims the employer also did not honour an agreement made last year.
Sharon Graham, general secretary of Unite which represents the employees, has criticized the firm and its “tax-exiled billionaire” owner, and advised MDHC to “table a reasonable offer”. Former Liverpool big name Jamie Carragher, award-winning actor Stephen Graham and Team GB Olympian Natasha Jonas have all expressed their help for the striking workers. An MDHC boss has stated the firm acknowledges employees’ issues at the value of living crisis and is “deeply disappointed” that the latest offer has been rejected. This follows strike action by Unite members at the UK’s biggest port, Felixstowe, in a similar dispute over pay and working conditions.
Workers reject MDHC’s offer
Workers at Liverpool docks will walk out today after rejecting a pay offer worth 7% plus a one-off fee, according to Unite. Port of Liverpool is one of the UK’s largest container ports, and the -week strike is expected to cause significant disruption each locally and to the wider supply chain. The employer says its offer is worth between 8.3% and 10%, and is made out of a 7% increase in the basic fee of pay, plus a £750 one-off fee and a “1.three% growth from pay charges and allowances”. Unite has disputed this analysis of the offer, arguing that the 7% growth in the fee of pay represents a real-phrases pay reduce because of the excessive fee of inflation, and arguing the employer can have the funds for to provide more.
Unite has criticized Peel Ports Group, which owns MDHC, as it is majority owned by John Whittaker, a billionaire who’s based in the Isle of Man tax haven. According to debts filings for MDHC made as much as 31 March 2021, the employer made £41.5m in profit last year, up from £22.6m the previous year. Peel Ports Group paid its maximum paid director £4.5m in 2021 according to accounts filings, up from £1.6m the previous year. Graham, who as Unite general secretary has spoken out towards profiteering amongst UK firms during the cost of living crisis, has been closely involved in the dispute.
“Workers across the country are sick to death of being informed to take a hit on their wages and living standards while employer after employer is guilty of rampant profiteering. MDHC needs to think again, table an affordable offer and fulfil its previous pay promises.” Jamie Carragher is a few of the celebrities to have voiced help for the dockers ahead of the strike, that is due to continue until 3 October.
“You’ve got my support and backing,“ he stated, “you fully deserve everything that you’re fighting for, keep going.”
Stephen Graham, best recognized for his role in This Is England, and expert boxer Natasha Jonas, additionally recorded messages of support ahead of the dispute. Workers are set to be joined at the wooden lines by contributors of worldwide delivery unions International Transport Workers Federation and European Transport Workers Federation.
Paddy Crumlin, ITF President and Dockers’ Section Chair, stated: “In the face of soaring inflation in the United Kingdom, with a few economists predicting that the fee of inflation will rise to 20 percent by January, the Liverpool dockers’ pay demands are measured and reasonable. “As the cost of necessities like food, energy and petrol continue to rise to astronomical levels, we’re seeing employer after employer gouge profits on the expense of workers’ livelihoods and living standards. Working people have had enough – and that why 560 Liverpool dockers have walked out the gate on strike.
“Fair pay for a fair day’s work is all that’s being asked, and MDHC can afford to show they appreciate their workforce at the pay packet.”