Almost 2,000 workers at UK's Felixstowe port embark on eight-day strike

Workers including crane drivers and machine operators walk off their jobs at England's largest container port

Thousands of shipping containers at the Port of Felixstowe in Suffolk. PA
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Almost 2,000 workers at the UK's biggest container port have launched an eight-day strike over a pay dispute, the latest industrial action to hit the UK economy.

Workers including crane drivers and machine operators at Felixstowe port on England’s east coast have downed tools in protest at their pay not keeping up with the cost of living.

The strike comes as people across the UK faced travel disruptions on Saturday for the third day this week as thousands of rail workers continued a summer of strikes to seek better pay and job security amid soaring food and energy price hikes.

The Unite union alleges that Felixstowe port’s parent company, CK Hutchison Holding Ltd, prioritised profits instead of paying workers a decent wage.

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

Felixstowe handles almost half of the container freight entering the country. The strike could mean vessels have to be diverted to ports elsewhere in the UK or Europe.

A growing number of unions are planning strikes as Britain faces its worst cost-of-living crisis in decades. Latest figures put inflation at 10.1 per cent — a 40-year-high — and increasing numbers of Britons are struggling to cope with steeply rising energy and food bills as wages fail to catch up with the cost of living.

Postal workers, lawyers, British Telecom staff and garbage collectors have all announced walkouts for later this month.

Rail workers began a series of large-scale strikes that grounded national train travel in June, demanding better pay and working conditions as authorities try to reform the rail system, which has lost large chunks of its income due to the coronavirus pandemic and shifting commuting patterns.

The government and transit unions have not reached a resolution despite months of talks.

Updated: August 21, 2022, 5:03 AM