Hundreds of dockworkers at one of Britain's largest container ports will be balloted for strike action in a dispute over pay and conditions, a union representing them said on Tuesday, threatening disruption to supply chains.
Staff from a range of sectors, including rail and aviation, have resorted to strikes as pay hikes fail to keep up with British inflation, which reached a 40-year peak of 9.1% in May.
The Unite union said more than 500 dockworkers at MDHC Container Services, part of Peel Ports, in Liverpool would be asked to vote over industrial action after a 7% pay offer was deemed inadequate and workers were not given an agreed bonus.
"Strike action will inevitably severely affect shipping and road transport as well as creating shortages in supply chains," Unite regional officer Steven Gerrard said in a statement.
The dockworkers being balloted are involved in port operations, including loading and unloading of containers.
A representative for Peel Ports said news of the strike ballot was "extremely disappointing "especially as the shipping industry already faces supply chain disruptions due to the coronavirus pandemic and the conflict in Ukraine.
Peel Ports had effectively increased pay by 16%-25% over the last three years at the Liverpool port, port official Richard Mitchell said in an emailed statement. The firm had also boosted sick pay, night work allowance and pension contributions, he said.
"We remain committed to resolving the situation," Mitchell, port director for Liverpool Containers at Peel Ports, said.
The strike ballot will open on July 25 and close on Aug. 15, and stoppages at the port could begin at the end of August if workers vote to strike.
(Reuters - Reporting by Sachin Ravikumar; editing by Barbara Lewis and Ed Osmond)