An eight-day strike began on Sunday at Britain’s biggest cargo port, the latest episode in a wave of walkouts across various sectors to demand higher wages in the face of record 10% inflation.
After three consecutive days of strikes that disrupted transport, particularly rail, now it is the large port of Felixstowe that is affected.
It is the first strike since 1989 at this port in eastern England, which handles some four million containers a year.
Some 1,900 members of the Unite union, including crane and machine operators as well as longshoremen, have walked off the job to demand higher wages, amid a major crisis of purchasing power in Britain.
Inflation reached 10.1% annually in July and could exceed 13% in October, according to the Bank of England, the highest level for a G7 country.
All this has caused a series of stoppages in various British industries. The telecommunications giant BT is going to face its first strike in decades, just like Amazon warehouse staff, the criminal defense sector, or the garbage collection sector.
Prices have skyrocketed mainly due to gas prices, on which the country is highly dependent, and which have increased due to the war in Ukraine, but also due to disruptions in supply chains and the lack of workers, as a result of Covid. -19 and Brexit .
A “very profitable” port
According to the Unite union, which called the strike in Felixstowe, the strike will have a strong impact on the port, through which some 2,000 cargo ships pass annually.
It also justifies demands for higher wages because of the company’s high profits.
“Felixstowe is very profitable. The latest figures show that in 2020 it made a profit of £61m ($72m),” said Unite General Secretary Sharon Graham.
“The parent company, CK Hutchison Holding Ltd, is so wealthy that in the same year it distributed £99m to its shareholders. They can therefore give the Felixstowe workers a proper pay rise,” he added.
The company says it has proposed a salary increase that seems “fair” to it, of 8% on average, and close to 10% for the lowest salaries.
The port authority said in turn that it “regrets the impact of this action on British distribution chains” and said it was working with its customers “to limit disruption”.
According to analysts, the Felixstowe strike, in addition to the stoppages registered this week in public transport, the London Underground or the post office, constitute a social movement that could last beyond the summer and extend to education and health officials, where unions have called offers of wage increases “miserable.”