Combined strike action across Felixstowe and Liverpool


Following the eight-day strike  at The Port of Felixstowe at the end of August, the UK sea freight sector is experiencing further disruption because of industrial action.

Currently, the Port of Liverpool has been on strike since the 19th September, and will continue to be until the 3rd October. The Port of Felixstowe is going to strike from the 27th September until the 5th October. Both strikes are organised by the Unite Union. What has caused the strikes, and how will your business be affected? Find out in this article.

The Port of Felixstowe strike

Unite stated in their press release on the 13th September that “Felixstowe Dock and Railway Company unilaterally ended pay talks after refusing to improve its pay offer and instead announced that it was imposing a pay deal of seven per cent on the workforce.”

The seven percent pay increase was already rejected in August, which resulted in an eight-day strike at Felixstowe between Monday 22nd August and Monday 29th August. The eight-day duration allowed for both shifts across the four days on / four days off work rota to participate.

Following the decision to strike from the 27th September until the 5th October, the East Anglian has stated  that management at the port have written to employees asking them to “think carefully about their future”, and advised them that it is their "personal choice to stay at home and support the strike or return to work on strike days".

Unite have commented on the Port’s position, stating that they are “eye-wateringly wealthy” but, rather than offer a fair pay offer, they have instead attempted to impose a real terms pay cut on their workers.

Unite national officer for docks, Bobby Morton, said: 

“The latest strike action is entirely of Felixstowe’s own making.  Rather than seeking to negotiate a deal to resolve the dispute, the company instead tried to impose a pay deal.
Further strike action will inevitably lead to delays and disruption to the UK’s supply chain, but this is entirely of the company’s own making.”

The Port of Liverpool strike

Unite workers at The Port of Liverpool are currently on strike after a pay increase of 8.3% and a one-off payment of £750 was rejected by the union. 

David Huck, the chief operating officer, said in a Peel Ports press release : “I am deeply disappointed Unite has rejected our significant pay package after many months of negotiation. This is bad news for our employees, families and other local employers. 

We fully recognise our colleagues’ concerns on the cost-of-living crisis, and that’s why we have responded with a pay package which represents a 10% average increase in annual pay.”

Unite rejected the improved pay deal based on inflation being 12.3%, stating that the wage increase would be a pay cut in real terms. However, Peel Ports argued that the basic pay of their people has increased above inflation by 16-26% every year for over a decade. 

If Peel Ports agree to Unite’s proposal of circa-20%, the average container operative would be paid circa-£43,000 per annum, which is significantly above the Liverpool and national averages.

The strike is due to end on 3rd October, although another may follow if an improved offer is not received.

What do the port strikes mean for your business?

Export shipments will miss vessels due to the terminals being closed, and you may be unable to collect containers from the port. Vessels will also be diverted to other ports to offload import shipments.

As providers of end-to-end customs clearance services, Customs Support can process your declarations at any seaport in the UK. Additionally, if your port of arrival is changed and you need assistance on local logistics service providers, we might have a recommendation for you.

If you are affected by the UK strikes, contact us for assistance.