Strike at UK’s biggest port threatens supply chain disruption


Supply chains within the UK face disruption this week as industrial motion spreads from the general public transport community to the nation’s busiest container port.

More than 1,900 members of the Unite union started an eight-day strike at Felixstowe on Sunday in a dispute over pay. The port handles 40 per cent of the UK’s container trade, equal to 4mn containers a 12 months.

The Russell Group, an analytics firm, estimated that as a lot as $800mn of trade could possibly be affected by the walkout, with clothes and electronics anticipated to be worst hit.

The port’s administration mentioned it had put contingencies in place to attempt to proceed working however warned that day by day throughput would rely upon what number of staff turned up.

The strikes at Felixstowe come after three days of disruption for passengers as unions staged one other sequence of strikes that affected the railways and London’s public transport community in long-running disputes over pay.

Members of the RMT and TSSA staged a second 24-hour strike in three days on Saturday in a dispute with Network Rail, which owns and operates the UK’s rail infrastructure, and with practice working firms. Staff had beforehand walked out on Thursday, leaving a few fifth of regular providers working.

Meanwhile, Londoners have been on Friday hit by walkouts on the Underground and elements of the capital’s bus community.

As a results of the Felixstowe industrial motion, Maersk, the world’s second-largest container delivery group, has already diverted three ships away from the port to different northern European locations and mentioned it was monitoring an extra 11 vessels that could possibly be affected by the strikes.

While the walkout will inevitably show disruptive and exacerbate supply chain stresses, trade executives mentioned the UK’s logistics trade had been extraordinarily resilient over the previous two years and that issues have been more likely to be manageable.

Natalie Chapman, an govt at trade physique Logistics UK, mentioned the strike was unlikely to have a noticeable affect on customers as many of the freight that provides retailers strikes by the Port of Dover.

“It is certainly far from ideal . . . and it will cause some challenges but the supply chain is used to having to deal with challenges,” she mentioned. “The longer things go on, the more serious the impacts could potentially be. If there were further strikes there would be concern.”

Felixstowe, which is owned by Hong Kong conglomerate CK Hutchison, mentioned it “very much” regretted the strike motion and urged unions to simply accept its provide of a 7 per cent pay rise plus £500 money bonus.

Unite mentioned industrial relations have been already strained by a pay rise of 1.8 per cent final 12 months, including that the port and its homeowners might afford a better pay provide.

Unite members at the port of Liverpool this month additionally voted to take industrial motion in a separate dispute, though the union has but to set strike dates.

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