Workers at UK’s largest container port to join rail strikes

LONDON – Nearly 2,000 workers at Britain’s biggest container port will launch an eight-day strike on Sunday over a pay dispute, the latest industrial action to affect a growing number of sectors of Britain’s economy.

Workers, including crane and machine operators, will leave their jobs at the port of Felixstowe on the east coast of England, which handles around 4 million containers a year from 2,000 ships.

The strike comes as people across the UK faced travel disruption on Saturday for the third day of this week as thousands of railway workers continued a summer of strikes for better pay and safety jobs amid soaring food and energy prices.

Only around one in five UK trains were due to run on Saturday, with some areas having no service all day. Football and cricket fans attending sports matches, as well as tourists, were among those affected.

Most of London’s underground Tube lines were out of service on Friday due to a separate strike.

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The Unite union alleges that the Port of Felixstowe’s parent company, CK Hutchison Holding Ltd., prioritized profits over paying workers a living wage.

Port authorities, for their part, said they were “disappointed” that Unite had not “come to the table for constructive discussions in order to find a solution”.

Felixstowe handles nearly half of the containerized freight entering the country. The strike could mean ships have to be diverted to ports elsewhere in the UK or Europe.

Railway workers began a series of large-scale strikes that blocked national train travel in June, demanding better wages and working conditions as authorities try to reform the rail system, which has lost much of its revenue due to the coronavirus pandemic and changing travel habits. .

More public and private sector unions are planning strikes as Britain faces its worst cost of living crisis in decades. Postal workers, lawyers, British Telecom staff and garbage collectors have all announced walkouts for the end of the month.

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