British dock workers join railway workers in strikes as prices rise

LONDON — Nearly 2,000 workers in the UK’s largest container port will launch an eight-day strike on Sunday over a wage dispute, the latest industrial action to hit the UK economy.

Workers, including crane operators and machine operators, will resign at the port of Felixstowe on the east coast of England, which handles about 4 million containers a year from 2,000 ships.

The strike comes as people across the UK faced travel disruptions for the third day this week on Saturday, as thousands of railway workers continue a summer of strikes to seek better wages and job security amid surging food and energy price hikes.

Only about one in five UK trains would run on Saturdays, and some areas have no services all day. Among those affected were football and cricket fans attending sports matches, as well as tourists. The disruptions will continue until Sunday and union leaders say more strikes are likely.

On Friday, most of London’s underground lines were closed due to a separate strike.

The Unite union alleges that Felixstowe Port’s parent company, CK Hutchison Holding Ltd., prioritized profits rather than paying workers decent wages.

Port authorities, for their part, said they were “disappointed” that Unite did not “come to the table for constructive discussions to find a solution”.

Felixstowe handles almost half of the container freight entering the country. The strike could mean that ships would have to be diverted to ports elsewhere in the UK or Europe.

A growing number of unions are planning strikes as Britain faces its worst cost of living crisis in decades. The latest figures show inflation is at 10.1% – the highest point in 40 years – and more Britons are grappling with soaring energy and food bills as wages fail to catch up with the cost of living.

Postmen, lawyers, British Telecom staff and garbage collectors have all announced strikes for later this month.

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Rail workers began a series of large-scale strikes in June that grounded national rail traffic, demanding better wages and working conditions as authorities try to reform the rail system, which has lost large parts of its income due to the coronavirus pandemic and changing living conditions. work patterns .

Despite months of talks, the government and transit unions have not reached a solution.

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