Engineering workers at Felixstowe docks in Suffolk have voted overwhelmingly for strike action in a dispute over the threat that some of them will be transferred to an outside company.
A total of more than 110 engineers, employed by the Felixstowe Dock and Railway Company, have voted 98 per cent for strike action and unanimously for industrial action short of a strike over plans to transfer a number of them to Universal Tyres.
Unite has about 1,900 members at the UK’s busiest container port, including the 116 engineers – however, at the current time, it is only the tyre fitting operation that faces being transferred, but Unite fears that this could be the start of a trend.
Unite regional officer Miles Hubbard said: “The crux of this dispute is that our engineering members consider that the identity of their employer is a condition of their employment contract and they do not want that being changed unilaterally.
“What we have here, if this outsourcing proposal involving Universal Tyres goes ahead, is the thin end of the wedge which, we believe, will see a salami–slicing of pay and conditions in the future. This is completely unacceptable.
“At present, the threat is just to the tyre fitting operation, but we fear that this could affect more of our engineering members going forward.
“We have now had an overwhelming mandate for strike action from our members over this issue and will be informing the company of strike dates in the next few days.
“However, there is still time for management to row back on these misguided plans that have nothing to do with the smooth running of the port, but are designed to squeeze out the last ounce of profit at the expense of the dedicated workforce.
“If the employer’s outsourcing agenda continues to gather momentum, we will have no hesitation in balloting the rest of our 1,800 members at the port for industrial action, which will have grave implications for Felixstowe’s operations in a competitive environment.”