Liverpool dock workers return to work after a week of strike action over pay and jobs

The dispute is between Peel and Unite which could lead to more industrial action if negotiations fail Credit: PA images

Dock workers at the port of Liverpool have returned to work today after a week of strike action over pay and jobs.

Almost 600 members of the unite union say they will walk out again from next Monday - for a fortnight - if an agreement isn't reached.

Unite the Union say an offer from port owner Peel Holdings was worth around 8.2% and a real-terms wage cut because of inflation.

Dock workers protesting at the start of the dispute. Credit: ITV News

The company said the offer was worth over 10%.

The news comes after Peel Ports announced job cuts at the docks because of the "marked deterioration" in the volume of containers it handles.

Peel Ports has previously said it has offered the workers a 10.2% pay rise, a figure which Unite disputes.

The union says the "real offer" was around 8.2% and the 10.2% figure was based on the maximum overtime possible above the contracted hours.

Dock workers union leaders say they will strike for 'as long as it takes'

Since the strikes at the docks began on 19 September, the workers say they have been subject to job threats despite plans to expand the port.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: "Peel Holdings is hugely profitable and can absolutely afford to pay our members a proper wage increase. It did so at Camel Laird, so why not at Liverpool docks?

"Instead of negotiations to resolve this dispute, the company has chosen to threaten jobs and repeatedly mislead about the deal it has tabled.

Sharon Grahamm General Secretary of Unite the Union alongside dock workers. Credit: ITV News

"Our members are standing firm, and have their union’s complete support. The company must put forward a pay rise they can accept or this strike continues."

Unite national coordinating officer for free ports, Steven Gerrard, added: "If Peel had genuinely offered 10.2% to all grades, we would ballot our members. But they haven’t, nor have they addressed their failure to implement 2021s pay agreement.

"Our members won’t put up with being treated as the second-class employees of the group. Unite’s message to Peel is 'stop the threats and misleading statements and put a proper offer on the table'."

A recent Peel Ports statement said: "Unite continues to make unrealistic and unsustainable above-inflation pay demands, whilst declining a meeting with ACAS.

"We are concerned Unite have no interest in resolving matters through the collective bargaining arrangements we have in place or via an independent ballot, as it continues to push for more strikes.

"Our average the 10.2% basic pay increase offered in talks last week represents an industry leading deal and is 2% above inflation, at the time of the pay anniversary and review in June.

Unite Union urge port operator to be 'truthful' about final pay rise

"Ongoing strikes are hurting Liverpool City Region’s businesses and prospects for future growth and jobs, at a time of economic uncertainty and volatile market conditions.

"We call on Unite to reconsider the greatly enhanced offer via an independent ballot, so we can bring these damaging strikes to an end."

David Huck, Chief Operating Officer at Peel Ports said: “Unite’s decision to call a further two-week strike, against a backdrop of dramatic reductions in container volumes, is entirely self-defeating.

"The union’s refusal to allow an independent postal ballot of the whole workforce on our final 10.2% pay increase is very telling.

"This pay offer is greater than that of any UK port and we are disappointed they are resorting to the old fashioned, mass meeting show-of-hands, when we believe every single worker deserves the chance to have their say, without undue influence.”