By Isabel Ringrose
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Striking Felixstowe dockers ready for next stage of their pay fight

This article is over 1 years, 6 months old
The first phase of strikes at Felixstowe port has ended. The Unite union must now push for escalation, so the dockers win
Issue 2820
Felixstowe

Striking Felixstowe dockers on the picket lines

Dockers at the giant Felixstowe port ended the first phase of their strike last Sunday after eight days of action over pay. The strike of almost 2,000 workers in Suffolk shut down Britain’s largest container port causing mayhem for supply chains and bosses’ profits.

 

Bosses originally offered the workers 5 percent, followed by 7 percent with a £500 lump sum, and then 7.5 percent. But strikers stood firm and rejected the offers. The Unite union members are insisting on a 10 percent increase.

“We have been effectively taking a pay cut for the last couple of years. We believe we deserve more when we worked all throughout the pandemic,” striker Donna said.

Shop steward John added, “Everyone’s staying strong and saying let’s make sure we stand together to make sure we get a fair pay rise, especially during the cost of living crisis. “The media believe we’re well paid. Well, we should be for the work we do.”

Unite has warned it could now organise more, harder hitting action. Unite general secretary Sharon Graham visited the picket line last week, and said, “We will escalate this dispute unless they come back with a revised offer. 

“We have no option. This is simply corporate greed.” Unite officials and reps are now discussing what that escalation would look like. The Felixstowe Dock and Railway company is primarily owned by CK Hutchison, which made profits of £79 million last year—a 28 percent increase on the previous year. 

Strikers are furious that while profits are up, the firm has offered them “peanuts”. Strong solidarity on the picket lines—with only a handful of workers still going in, and support from other workers such as hauliers—is a sign of how strong the resistance is.

And, pickets were buoyed last week by a solidarity visit of dozens of Liverpool dock workers who have also voted to strike over pay. Unite should push hard to ensure the dockers win. The best way to do that is to strike alongside other workers also fighting back.

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