Felixstowe Strike Canceled

Port of Felixstowe

Published Dec 26, 2019 4:26 PM by The Maritime Executive

Workers at the Port of Felixstowe in the U.K. have canceled strike action planned for December 27 and 28.

Unite the Union is now in talks aimed at resolving its concerns over the Port of Felixstowe's plans to transfer some engineering jobs to an outside company to cut costs.

The strike was planned by over 110 engineers employed by the Felixstowe Dock and Railway Company, who had voted by 98 percent for strike action over plans to transfer a number of them to Universal Tyres.

Unite has about 1,900 members at the U.K.’s busiest container port, including the 116 engineers. At the current time, it is only the tyre fitting operation that faces being transferred, but Unite fears that this could be the start of an unwelcome trend.

Unite, Britain and Ireland’s largest union, announced on December 18 that it would also start balloting its remaining 1,800 members at the docks on what action to take. The ballot closes on January 14.

Unite regional officer Neal Evans said: “What we have here, if this outsourcing proposal involving Universal Tyres goes ahead, is the thin end of the wedge which, we believe, will see a salami–slicing of pay and conditions in the future. This is completely unacceptable.

“The crux of this dispute is that our engineering members consider that the identity of their employer is a condition of their employment contract, and they do not want that being changed unilaterally.

“Concern is also snowballing amongst the rest of our 1,800 membership that they could be next for the outsourcing ‘chop’ – and that’s why we are holding a further ballot for those members for industrial action, including strike action.”

The Port has agreed to hold off making a deal with the tyre company until alternatives are discussed in January.