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Norris says ‘of course’ workers who don’t feel able to pay their bills will take action – LabourList

Labour’s Alex Norris said ‘of course’ workers who don’t feel able to pay their bills ‘will take action’ amid an ongoing strike by workers at the UK’s biggest container port .

More than 1,900 Unite members working at the port of Felixstowe in Suffolk began eight days of industrial action on Sunday, the first strike at the port since 1989.

Unite said Saturday’s talks failed to reach a “satisfactory conclusion” after the employer, the Felixstowe Dock and Railway Company, failed to improve its offer of a 7% pay rise. The union pointed out that the offer was “significantly lower” than the actual rate of inflation (RPI) of 11.8%.

Speaking on Sky News this morning, the shadow leveling minister said: ‘It is always a very difficult decision – I say this myself as a former union organizer – for staff to withdraw their jobs. We know in Felixstowe, I don’t believe that’s happened since the late 80s.”

The Labor leader said port staff looked at their payslips and invoices and saw they were ‘not getting married’.

“They’re also looking at the work that they’ve done over the past two amazing years that we’ve all had and they’re looking at the significant profits that have been made by Ports of Felixstowe and saying that doesn’t come together and that’s there you see the measures that are being taken today,” he added.

Norris said: ‘I hope, as you surely would, I’m sure all your viewers would too, that a solution can be found that works for the staff, works for the operators so that we can continue to transport the freight. But I am not very surprised given the context in which we find ourselves in this situation.

Pressed on whether he supports the strikes, Norris said: “It’s up to the workers and their unions to decide the best tactic to reach a fair deal. It’s not for me to prescribe that. What I’m saying is if workers feel like they can’t pay their bills and the payment they get meets that time, then of course they’re going to take action.

“So now we need a solution to that. We need this to be organized amicably in the mutual interest. I’m sure it can be done, and the sooner the better.

Confirming the strike on Sunday, Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Felixstowe Docks and its parent company CK Hutchison Holding Ltd are both hugely profitable and incredibly wealthy.

“They are quite capable of paying the workforce a fair daily wage. The company has prioritized handing out multi-million pound dividends over paying its employees a living wage.

“Unite is fully focused on improving the jobs, wages and conditions of its members and will give the workers of Felixstowe its full support until this dispute is resolved and a decent wage increase is achieved.”

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