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Major UK port strikes risk future supply chains

UK supply chain

The main container ports in the UK are likely to face more strikes over pay disputes, which are scheduled for the end of September. These strikes and industrial actions like these are expected to further strain Europe’s already overstretched supply networks.

The beginning of the strikes took place on September 19 when a total of 560 maintenance engineers and port operators who were hired by Mersey Docks and Harbour Company (MDHC) in Liverpool began a two-week walkout on September 19 after rejecting an offer of an 8.3% salary raise and reportedly requesting a 20% increase instead, according to a news agency. According to one of the largest trade unions in the region of the UK, Unite has noted that given the high rate of inflation, the offer equates to a real-terms salary decrease.

The financial pressure on households in the UK has increased due to rising prices. A rise of 9.9 per cent was noticed in the consumer price index (CPI) of the nation in the past year to August. Alongside, there was a 13.1 per cent of rising in the prices of food and non-alcoholic beverage. Looking at this situation, MDHC, the owner of Peel Ports Group has expressed disappointment.

UK supply chain

There was a 13.1 percent of rising in the prices of food and non-alcoholic beverage.

David Huck, the chief operating officer (COO) of the group has said that this news is a bad one not only for the employees and local employers but also for the families. He also noted that the company totally understands the concerns of their colleagues over the current cost-of-living situation. The 8.3% salary increase offer included an additional one-time payment of 750 pounds ($850) for each container worker at the port, and the group asked the union to negotiate a resolution to the conflict. However, this strike would overrun with the other strike in Suffolk at the Felixstowe port.

According to Unite, one of the busiest container ports in the UK has announced a fresh walkout after workers dismissed the attempt by the management to conclude a pay deal. The labour action, which is slated to take place between September 27 and early October, will follow an eight-day strike by more than 1,900 Unite members at Felixstowe in late August over the salary issue. The Peel Ports Group stated that other Liverpool operations are unaffected by the strike at its container operations.

A warning has been issued by Unite about the severe disruptions in both road transport and shipping that will take place as a result of the strike action in Liverpool and the neighbouring areas. One of the busiest ports in the UK, the Liverpool port has 845 employees in its container division. Almost 525,000 containers were handled by the docks in the year 2021.

A warning has been issued by Unite about the severe disruptions in both road transport and shipping.

The potential for disruption and congestion will become ‘real’ due to the overlapping of strike actions that are likely to take place according to Flexport, which is a logistics company. The number of days containers spent at the terminal had already increased significantly as a result of the previous walkout at Felixstowe in late August, according to a supply chain analytics platform. The data of the analytics platform states that all ocean shipments at Felixstowe were at a halt of 5.3 days on average at the terminal on August 21, when the strike was initiated.

By August 30, delays had reached a climax, with containers remaining in the terminal for an average of 9.9 days—an increase of 87%. By September 10, Felixstowe’s delays were resolved, and during that period, Koepke said, port congestion in a few significant European ports began to significantly worsen.

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