Felixstowe, the UK’s largest container port, is set to come to a standstill next month after members of Unite, the UK’s leading union, overwhelmingly backed strike action in a dispute over pay.

Huge yes vote

Unite members at Felixstowe are responsible for all aspects of the port's operation. The workers recorded a 92 per cent vote for industrial action on an 81 per cent turnout.

The dispute is a result of the Felixstowe Dock and Railway Company offering a pay increase of just five per cent to its workers. This is an effective pay cut with the real (RPI) rate of inflation currently standing at 11.9 per cent. Last year the workforce received a below inflation pay increase of 1.4 per cent.

Extremely wealthy company

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “The bottom line is this is an extremely wealthy company that can fully afford to give its workers a pay rise. Instead it chose to give bonanza pay outs to shareholders touching £100 million.

“Unite is focused on defending the jobs, pay and conditions of its members and we will giving 100 per cent support to our members at Felixstowe.

“Workers should not be paying the price for the pandemic with a pay cut. Unite has undertaken 360 disputes in a matter of months and we will do all in our power to defend workers.”'


Strike action would bring Felixstowe to a standstill and would cause major logistical problems for maritime and road haulage transport entering the port.  Felixstowe is responsible for 48 per cent of the UK’s container trade.

The Felixstowe Dock and Railway Company is extremely profitable; its most recent accounts show that it made pre-tax profits of £61 million in 2020, when it also paid out £99 million in dividends.

The company’s dividends are paid into a complicated company structure but are principally received by the organisation’s ultimate holding company, CK Hutchison Holdings Ltd. It is registered in the Cayman Islands and listed on the Hong Kong stock exchange.

Supply chain affected

Unite regional officer Miles Hubbard said: “Strike action at Felixstowe will inevitably create huge disruption across the UK’s supply chain.

 “This dispute is of Felixstowe’s own making. Strike dates have yet to be announced but even at this late stage the dispute could be resolved by the company returning to negotiations and making a realistic offer.”


Notes to editors:

For more information please contact Unite senior communications officer Barckley Sumner on 020 3371 2067 or 07802 329235.

Email: [email protected]

Unite is the UK and Ireland’s leading union fighting to protect and advance jobs, pay and conditions for members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Sharon Graham.