18 November 2014
Four-day strike this week over staffing levels at profitable Portsmouth port
Passenger and freight traffic at Portsmouth’s international port will be severely disrupted when 15 quay assistants stage a four-day strike this weekend in a dispute over staffing levels and annual leave.
The quay assistants, members of Unite, the country’s largest union, will strike at the Portsmouth city council-owned port from 15:00 on Sunday (23 November) until 14:40 on Wednesday 26 November.
The strike follows repeated efforts by Unite to resolve a number of ongoing issues relating to reduced staffing levels, annual leave and call out arrangements.
Unite’s city council convenor Richard White said: “Management at the port have clearly reneged on agreements made with staff last year that detailed the levels of staff working on the quay side.
“It has also proceeded to impose a leave system without consultation that makes it increasingly difficult for our members to take a break away from their physically demanding jobs.”
The three mechanical fitters at the port, all Unite members, are being balloted for industrial action following their dismissal from existing contracts in an effort to impose a new call out system for weekend cover. The ballot closes on Thursday (20 November).
The port’s 21 freight security assistants are also imposing an overtime ban which will begin on Monday 24 November and will initially run for two weeks.
Unite regional officer Ian Woodland said: “Budget reports to Portsmouth city council show that the port is in good financial health and it is currently expecting to pocket £463,000 this financial year over the estimated operational income. There is no financial reason to maintain these unsustainably low staffing levels.
“The four-day strike action is likely to cause severe disruption to passenger and freight traffic at the port. To avert this, Unite is urging the port’s management to get around the table to negotiate in a constructive and positive fashion.
“All negotiations to date have fallen on deaf ears despite the best intentions of our members’ representatives to reach agreement.
“Management seems to be in denial that there is a problem. Taking this action is the last resort in order to focus management’s attention to the issue in hand.”