Vital Portsmouth council services, which rely on the revenues from the port, could be hit by the ‘heavy-handed’ way the port’s management has treated its staff, Unite, the country’s largest union, has warned.
Unite is concerned that customers will suffer if the management pushes ahead with its plans to reduce staff costs by 10 per cent in the next few years – and this is particularly worrying as the city council relies heavily on the port’s revenues to maintain the authority’s services across the city.
Unite members at Portsmouth International Port have unanimously voted for industrial action in a dispute that ranges from security, health and safety, and plans that could see workers lose up to £1,300-a-year.
Unite called on the management of the port, which is owned by Portsmouth city council, to get around the table to negotiate in a fair and meaningful fashion.
Unite reps will be consulted on the nature of the industrial action – and the exact details will be announced early next week. This follows the 100 per cent vote in favour of industrial action short of a strike.
Unite is angry that after months of fruitless talks over reductions in staffing levels, the port managers then began individual consultations that would see staff in freight security reduced to unsustainable levels, and lead to changes to terms and conditions for many staff. Some staff could lose up to £1,300-a-year.
Unite regional officer Ian Woodland said: “Members predict a reduced service being available to customers due to insufficient numbers of operational staff being on site - gates will need to close reducing access to freight customers.
“Quay assistants could be forced to work light handed or without supervision and staff will be relied upon to work overtime to fill the gaps.
“Port managers should be aware that their heavy-handed and dictatorial management style will be resisted by our members. We have voiced our concerns about the proposal to cut operational staff on numerous occasions and our members have not been listened to.”
Unite convenor at Portsmouth city council Richard White said: “These cuts are ill-conceived and opportunistic and could have an indirect adverse knock-on effect for other council services.
“Our members oppose these proposals not only because of potential changes to pay, but because the reductions to operational staff will have a detrimental impact to the service Portsmouth International Port provides its customers, along with the revenue it generates for other council services.”
The port employs about 100 workers.
For further information please contact Ian Woodland on 07770 704 480 and/or Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble on 07768 693940
- Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.