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Port strike could cause ‘huge disruption’ to supply chain

A commerce physique and union have warned that deliberate strike motion on the Port of Felixstowe might worsen supply-chain points later this yr.

The Suffolk port accounts for a 3rd of all freight commerce that comes into the UK by way of containers.

Unite union members have backed strike motion subsequent month as a part of a rejection of a 5 per cent pay enhance that was provided by proprietor and operator Hutchison Ports UK.

Unite regional officer Miles Hubbard warned a strike would create “big disruption” throughout the UK provide chain.

He added that strike dates had but to be introduced and referred to as on Hutchison to barter additional.

Development Merchandise Affiliation deputy chief govt Jeff Might mentioned the proposed strike was a brand new consider a sequence of points which have affected the port.

Might mentioned: “Felixstowe has struggled to get on prime of a variety of points impacting deliveries for a number of years now.

“Since 2021, our members have responded by more and more counting on different ports, resembling Tilbury. And, whereas some sectors resembling rest room and electrical items proceed to endure critical issues with delivery en route, basically, the problems round availability of imported merchandise have improved from a yr in the past.”

Regardless of this, Might added: “Any strike motion would exacerbate present strains on the development provide chain going into [the] second half of the yr, when house for deliveries of development merchandise competes with different client items for the vacation season.”

In October 2021, the lead instances for some development supplies lengthened as a result of a massive backlog at Felixstowe. It was additionally one of the UK ports hit by huge congestion in late 2020, when coronavirus-related imports mixed with COVID-secure measures led to throughput difficulties at terminals.

A Hutchison Ports spokesperson mentioned it believes it has made a good supply on pay, and can meet with the union and arbitration service ACAS subsequent week within the hope of avoiding industrial motion.

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