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Port workers rally ahead of strike over shift change cuts

Port workers rally ahead of strike over shift change cuts

14 March 2016

Members of the UK’s largest union, Unite, at the Port of Grangemouth will rally this evening (Monday 14 March) before joining night shift colleagues on the picket line as a two week strike over the imposition of shift changes, affecting pay by up to £1,800 a year, gets under way. 

The fortnight of strikes will start tomorrow morning (Tuesday 15 March) at 00.01 hours and run until 00.01 hours on Tuesday 29 March, following which a complete ban on overtime will commence, after 100 per cent of Unite members in the port operatives division voted for strikes on a 97 per cent turnout. 

The dispute has arisen after imposed changes by employer Forth Ports to shift rotations at the port affecting operative work, specifically: 

  • A 25 per cent increase in weekend shift work with the removal of overtime pay rates;
  • A decrease in night shift cover from one week in seven and one week in eight; and 
  • An increase in the number of shift teams from seven to eight.

The removal of weekend overtime rates will cost operatives up to £1,600 a year and the reduced night shift cover an additional £200 a year, while a wage freeze has also been imposed by the company for 2016/17. 

Unite regional officer Sandy Smart said: “We are on the verge of a prolonged strike action at Scotland’s biggest port because of Forth Ports’ draconian approach to employment relations.

“The basics of good relations are consultation and negotiation but Forth Ports completely ignored this to impose a range of measures that will cause significant financial detriment to its employees.

“We have repeatedly approached the employer in an effort to resolve this situation and avoid a damaging dispute but we have been stonewalled at every turn.

“The anger of our members is clear in the overwhelming support for strikes and their demands for proper negotiations concerning the future of their livelihoods.”

ENDS

For further information please contact Unite regional officer Sandy Smart on 07810 157927 or Peter Welsh on 07810 157931. 

  • Unite Scotland is the country’s biggest and most diverse trade union with 150,000 members across the economy. The union is led in Scotland by Pat Rafferty.

Notes to Editors: 

  • Striking Port Operatives will rally this evening at the Bowhouse Community Association Centre, 130 Bowhouse Road, Grangemouth, FK3 0EU from 20:00.  
  • Please note this is a closed meeting for Unite members only. Unite officials will be available for interview before and after the meeting at the venue. 
  • The meeting will convene at 20@00 and finish at 22:00, after which workers will march to the designated picket lines at the port entrances on North Shore Road & Powdrake Road to meet the night shift for the start of the strike at 00.01 hours, Tuesday 15 March.