Consequences of the strike in Felixstowe
30 August 2022
In Felixstowe, the largest port in the United Kingdom, strikes have been ongoing since Sunday 21 August. Terminal company Hutchison Ports and the British union Unite are arguing over better employment conditions for almost 2000 port workers. There is a lot of sympathy from surrounding ports. How could this hamper your shipment?
What is going on?
Felixstowe processes about half of the four million containers that enter the United Kingdom every year. This makes the Port of Felixstowe the most important container port in Great Britain. The ‘Felixstowe Dock and Railway Company’, or FDRC, is an operating company of the Hong Kong Hutchison Ports and is in charge here.
The strikes that began on Sunday 21 August were previously announced as an eight-day work stoppage yet still continue. With this action, they hope to force an increase in wages for the almost 2000 workers of the transshipment company FDRC.
According to Hutchinson Ports, the initiative for this stoppage came not from the workforce but from the British Unite union. This statement immediately set the tone: the bickering companies have been at each other’s throats for years on and off. This dramatic strike seems to have escalated the situation.
Unite is calling for a 12 percent pay increase. According to the union, the port company is sufficiently profitable to implement the pay increase. They believe that the port workers are not properly remunerated and that too much money is going the shareholders’ way.
Transshipment company FDRC, on the other hand, says they have made the employees a good offer of more than 8 percent on average over 2022. The trade union refutes this. According to Unite, the offer only amounted to 7 percent plus a one-off payment of 500 pounds prior to the strike action.
The Unite union leader last week hinted that they would agree to a 10 percent pay increase. They believe that this would compensate for current inflation. On the other hand, he also said he would not back down from extending the strikes to the port of Liverpool. It seems his words are not empty words. The majority of port workers there have agreed to take part in possible strike action.
Great Britain is upside down
A side effect is that other organisations are also arguing for higher wages. For example, metro and train staff already put down tools earlier this year. What’s more, work stoppages have been announced by the postal service, telecom companies, the education sector, lawyers, and waste collection services, among others.
In July of this year, inflation in the United Kingdom reached 10.1 percent. This is the highest level in 40 years. British people are in trouble because wages are not rising. Rising energy bills and soaring food prices also play a major role. As a result, the people of the United Kingdom are now having great difficulty making ends meet.
Possible bottlenecks and expectations for your shipment
For the time being, the strikes are ongoing. Several large container ships lie at anchor, awaiting unloading and loading. The damage is already in the hundreds of millions. Especially (international) road hauliers have seen a sharp decline in their turnover as all transport to and from Felixstowe has discontinued.
Due to the lack of transport, this ongoing stoppage will have severe consequences for the supply of shops and businesses. Disruptions in Rotterdam and surrounding ports cannot be ruled out. This is in addition to the congestion that Northern European ports have been experiencing for some time as well. For instance, several ships off the coast of Hamburg have been delayed for about 20 days due to congestion in the port.
At the time of writing, 30 August 2022, negotiations have stalled. Unfortunately, no news of a renewed attempts at talks have emerged so far.
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