Dockworkers accused of living in the 1970s as the UK’s biggest shipping port braced for strike chaos | United Kingdom | New

The Unite union has announced that staff at Felixstowe, which handles more than a third of Britain’s sea freight, have voted to strike in a pay dispute, warning of major disruptions to the supply chain supply. Dockworkers join a growing wave of employees, in a range of sectors from rail to telecommunications, taking industrial action as pay rises fail to keep pace with inflation expected to hit double digits in Britain by the end of the year.

Cabinet Secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg claimed Unite union members were fueling inflation by backing the Felixstowe walkout with a 9-1 majority.

Mr Rees-Mogg told World At One on BBC Radio 4: “It is very important that we keep the port of Felixstowe open. The strike would be extremely damaging to the whole of the UK economy. It would have a direct effect on people’s lives.

“I am concerned about the 1970s approach to labor activity that is coming from the unions, with some degree of support from the Labor Party at this time.”

He added: “It’s part of the problem of inflation and inflation is a major problem for the economy. It translates into higher wage demands and tightness in the labor market. I don’t think that it will prove the response to inflation, as it was not the case in the 1970s.”

News of the strike vote comes after the shipping industry was hit by major disruption last year due to the Covid pandemic which caused shortages of products, including children’s toys, for Christmas .

Unite regional manager Miles Hubbard warned that industrial action would “inevitably create huge disruption in the UK supply chain”.

Strike action would cause major logistical problems for sea and road transport entering the port, as Felixstowe is responsible for almost half (48%) of the UK’s container trade.

Unite said workers at Felixstowe Docks, operated by Hutchison Ports, have been offered a 5% pay rise.

Workers backed the industrial action over pay by 92% out of an 81% turnout.

Unite said in a statement: ‘Strike action would immobilize Felixstowe and cause major logistical problems for sea and road transport entering the port.

The port is popular due to its deep harbour, proximity to Europe, and strategic road and rail connections to British trading hubs. Around 2,000 ships deliver almost 4 million containers each year, making it the 8th largest in Europe and the 43rd in the world.

More than two-thirds of its holders transport goods to the Midlands’ “Golden Triangle”, where giant online retailers have their national distribution centres.

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“Workers should not pay the price of the pandemic with a pay cut.

“Unite has undertaken 360 disputes in a few months and we will do everything in our power to defend the workers.”

Hutchison did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The union has not given specific dates for the strike, which will take place next month.

Earlier this month Unite said it was also voting for hundreds of Liverpool dockworkers in view of a possible strike.