LONDON: The first day of a planned strike at Britain’s biggest container port began on Sunday, joining a series of walkouts by transport workers that disrupted economic activity across the country.
About 2,000 workers in the Port of Felixstow, about 150 kilometers (93 mi) northeast of London, left their jobs for pay, raising fears of serious supply chain problems. The port handles about 4 million containers per year from 2,000 ships – almost half of the country’s incoming shipping freight.
Sharon Graham, general secretary of the labor union Unite, which called for the strike, accused the company that operates Dock and its parent company of “extremely profitable” CK Hutchison Holding LimitedPrioritized shareholder benefit over worker welfare.
“They can give Felixstowe employees a decent salary increase. It is clear that both companies have prioritized multi-million pound profits and dividends rather than paying a decent salary to their employees,” she said.
The Port of Felixstow said in a statement it regretted the impact of the attacks on UK supply chains. It said workers were offered pay increases “over an average of 8% in the current year”.
Britons are facing the worst cost of living crisis in decades as wages fail to keep pace with inflation and rising grocery costs and utility bills. The latest figures put the inflation rate at 10.1%, a 40-year high.
Circumstances have triggered a summer strike by train and metro workers after wage negotiations broke down in June. During the third railway strike in as many days, only one out of five UK trains ran on Saturday.
On Friday, most of London’s underground subway lines did not operate due to a separate strike. Postal workers, lawyers, British Telecom employees and garbage collectors have announced a walkout later this month.