Port of Felixstowe

Workers at the Port of Felixstowe have voted overwhelmingly to take strike action in a dispute over outsourcing.

Some 116 engineers at the UK’s busiest container port voted by 98 per cent for strike action over plans to transfera number of them to another company, Universal Tyres.

For now, it is only the port’s tyre-fitting operation that faces being transferred, but the Unite union – which claims to have 1,900 members among the port’s 2,500 workers – fears this could be the start of a trend.

The Port of Felixstowe, which handles 37 per cent of the UK’s container imports, declined to comment.

Unite said it would be informing the employer, the Felixstowe Dock and Railway Company, of strike dates in the next few days.

The union's 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 outscoring 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.”

He added: “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.”