Strike at UK's largest container ship port could drag on as workers demand 10% pay rise

Workers at Felixstowe want a 10 per cent pay rise, up from the port operator's offer of 7 per cent. PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON (BLOOMBERG) - Strikes at Britain's largest container ship port could extend beyond the eight days currently planned by unions, threatening more disruption to the country's supply chains.

Ms Sharon Graham, general secretary of the Unite union, told Bloomberg Radio that workers at Felixstowe want a 10 per cent pay rise, up from the port operator's offer of 7 per cent and a £500 (S$820) one-off bonus.

Inflation is on track to rise above 18 per cent next year, investment bank Citigroup predicted on Monday (Aug 22).

It has already climbed to 10.1 per cent.

Ms Graham said it would be "totally unacceptable" for workers at Felixstowe, which is owned by a unit of CK Hutchison Holdings, to accept a pay rise below the rate of inflation.

The union "will do everything in our power" to secure higher pay, she added.

Strikes have broken out across Britain as workers demand pay hikes that keep pace with a rapid jump in living costs. Commuters and tourists were hit by three days of walkouts on the rail network last week, affecting 14 train companies and the London Underground.

Dock workers at the Port of Liverpool have authorised a strike as the cost-of-living crisis squeezes wages while shipping lines reel in record profits.

Barristers, as criminal lawyers are known in Britain, also started the week by voting for indefinite industrial action amid a row with the government over funding and fees.

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