‘Serious disruption’ to Volkswagen Group vehicle deliveries looms as Sheerness dock drivers prepare to strike
- Thursday 2 January 2020
Drivers at logistics firm GB Terminals (Southern) Ltd based at Sheerness docks, Kent, will begin three months of strike action on 10 January in a dispute over pay, Unite, the UK and Ireland’s largest union, said today (Thursday 2 January).
Unite members will hold a series of strikes beginning next Friday and ending 13 March, after GB Terminals refused a claim for a pay increase in line with inflation and sought to impose a pay freeze.
The union said the strike action by 26 members will cause ‘serious disruption’ to the supply of new Volkswagen Group vehicles into the UK, including the distribution of new plate vehicles due to go on sale in March 2020.
Unite represents drivers and other workers who move new Volkswagen Group vehicles, which also include models from Audi, Porsche and Skoda, off ferries arriving in Sheerness and process and park them ready to be picked up by car transporters.
Unite members voted overwhelmingly (84.2 per cent) in favour of strike action, after GB Terminals, which is part of the GBA group, shut down pay talks, including refusing Unite’s offer to involve conciliation service Acas in the negotiations.
Unite regional officer Philip Silkstone said: “These strikes will cause serious disruption to Volkswagen Group vehicle deliveries to dealerships across the UK, including new plate models set for release in March.
“Unite has done everything it can to prevent this dispute from escalating, including offering Acas-mediated talks, but so far GB Terminals has refused to see sense.
“The responsibility for this situation lies solely with GB Terminals who will have to explain why its actions have led to disruption and losses for Volkswagen.
“The drivers are simply asking for a pay rise in line with inflation and do not want to go on strike. It would be in the interests of everyone involved if strike action is avoided. For that to happen GB Terminals needs to come back with a pay offer our members can accept.”
Unite has notified GB Terminals (Southern) Ltd that six 24 hour strikes will take place on the 10, 17, 24 and 31 January and the 7 and 14 February. Two 48 hour strikes will also be held on the 20 and 27 February, in addition to a four day strike that will commence on 9 March.
For more information please contact Unite communications officer Ryan Fletcher on 07849 090215.
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Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest union with members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.