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Port of Felixstowe

Updated: Jul 31

The pandemic has put extraordinary strain on global supply chains and also on the workers who’ve kept those systems running under arduous conditions. It looks like many of them have had enough, the result of which is now being seen in the UK through a bitter dispute between unions and government ministers.

Dock workers are planning to bring Britain’s biggest container ship port to a standstill which will see a further decline in the country’s supply chain problems. Employees are demanding a better deal as inflation eats into their wages, Unite said the port operator’s offer of a 5% pay rise was unacceptable considering UK consumer price inflation was 8.2% in June.

A 92% vote majority was seen with the members at the port of Felixstowe who were in favour of a walkout, the Unite the Union aims to “cause major logistical problems for maritime and road haulage transport entering the port”.

With supply chains still fragile and job markets tight, those workers have leverage at the bargaining table, Unions are ramping up industrial action across several sectors in the UK, particularly transport. An update of this situation will occur this week after the meeting between Hutchison Ports and the Advisory Conciliation & Arbitration Service, where it is hoped that any industrial action can be avoided.

A.P. Moller - Maersk warned that those actions would cause “significant disruption” to the movement of freight. Further to this, any disruptions caused by labour disputes could add to the shortages and soaring prices that threaten to trigger recessions. UK retailers report prices have already seen rising at the sharpest pace since 2005, the British Retail Consortium said its measure of inflation increased to 4.4% in July from 3.1% last month, the highest since its survey first started.

It seems that we’re inevitably moving towards figures building up and putting increasing pressure on the cost-of-living crisis, which will initially hit consumers and then we’ll see retailers absorb some of the shocks to keep customers. As an organisation World Class Wholesale, LTD. are keeping a close eye on the progression of these union negotiations and is making sure we’re not left vulnerable by any actions in the coming weeks.

By Matthew Bullman

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