Engineering workers at Felixstowe docks in Suffolk will take strike action for two days – 27 and 28 December - in the dispute over the threat that some of them will be transferred to an outside company.

A total of more than 110 engineers, employed by the Felixstowe Dock and Railway Company, who had voted by 98 per cent for strike action over plans to transfer a number of them to Universal Tyres, will hold stoppages between 07.00 to 19.00 on Friday 27 December and Saturday 28 December.

Unite has about 1,900 members at the UK’s busiest container port, including the 116 engineers – however, at the current time, it is only the tyre fitting operation that faces being transferred, but Unite fears that this could be the start of an unwelcome trend.

Unite, Britain and Ireland’s largest union, announced today (Wednesday 18 December) that it would also start balloting its remaining 1,800 members at the docks for strike action and industrial action short of a strike on the outsourcing issue. The ballot will open on 24 December and closes on 14 January.

Unite regional officer Neal Evans said: “What we have here, if this outsourcing proposal involving Universal Tyres goes ahead, is the thin end of the wedge which, we believe, will see a salami–slicing of pay and conditions in the future. This is completely unacceptable.

“At present, the threat is just to the tyre fitting operation but we fear that this could affect more of our engineering members going forward. As a result, there will be two days of strike action on 27 and 28 December.

“The crux of this dispute is that our engineering members consider that the identity of their employer is a condition of their employment contract and they do not want that being changed unilaterally.

“Concern is also snowballing amongst the rest of our 1,800 membership that they could be next for the outsourcing ‘chop’ – and that’s why we are holding a further ballot for those members for industrial action, including strike action.

“This latest ballot is a really powerful shot across the company’s bows – however, there is still time for management to row back on these flawed plans that have nothing to do with the smooth running of the port, but are framed to squeeze out the last penny of profit at the expense of the dedicated workforce.”

ENDS

Notes to editors:

For more information please contact Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble on 020 3371 2060 or 07768 693940. Unite press office is on:  020 3371 2065
Email: shaun.noble@unitetheunion.org

  • Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest union with members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.