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Labor Agreement Averts Fourth Strike Planned for Liverpool

Liverpool port labor agreement
An agreement provides the path for a new labor contract after two months of strikes in Liverpool (Peel Ports)

Published Nov 9, 2022 12:35 PM by The Maritime Executive

After two months of strikes over wages and work rules, an agreement has been reached to provide the terms for a settlement of the labor disputes between dockworkers and the Port of Liverpool. While not providing details, both sides are confirming that an agreement has been reached which would prevent another strike planned for next week. 

"Peel Ports Group, which operates the Port of Liverpool’s container terminals alongside Terminal Investments Limited, is pleased to announce that an agreed proposal has been reached with Unite the Union that will be fully recommended to its members," the Liverpool port operator said in a brief statement on November 8. 

Neither side commented on the specifics of the agreement with reports saying that final details were still being resolved. Peel Ports had contended that its final offer amount to a 10 percent increase for many of the 600 port employees while Unite consistently refused the offers saying they were for less and did not meet the UK’s rate of consumer inflation which is currently above 12 percent.

Talks between the two sides deadlocked in August leading to the first strike lasting two weeks in mid-September. Workers again returned to the picket line in October with the latest job action ending at the beginning of this week. The union had already filed notice with Peel for plans for a fourth one-week strike due to begin November 14.

According to the statement, Peel Ports’ chief operating officer, David Huck, and Unite the Unions’ National Officer for Transport, Bobby Morton, confirmed that the planned strike will be postponed.  Peel said it understands that the union leadership will recommend the agreement to its members for a vote later this week.

While not as large as Felixstowe, the Port of Liverpool, which operates two container terminals, is one of the primary ports in the west which also have links to Scotland, Ireland, and inland ports along the Manchester Ship Canal. The port handles approximately 75,000 TEU a month with on average 60 ship calls.

The past few months have seen an increase in labor disputes impacting key ports in Europe. In addition to the strikes at Liverpool, Unite also stagged two strikes at Felixstowe and remains in contract negotiations with the port operated by HK Hutchison. At the same time, today, November 9, trade unions across Belgium are staging a one-day strike. About half the tugboats in the Port of Antwerp have joined the strike causing delays but port executives as saying the port continues to operate and that there have been no delays at the Port of Zeebrugge. Germany also experienced its first port strikes in many years during the summer months before reaching terms with the unions on a new contract.