Strike at largest shipping port adds to UK industrial chaos

LONDON — The first day of a planned strike in Britain’s largest container port began Sunday, along with a series of strikes by transport workers that have disrupted economic activity across the country.

Nearly 2,000 workers in the port of Felixstowe, about 150 kilometers (93 miles) northeast of London, left the job for wages, raising fears of serious problems in the supply chain. The port handles about 4 million containers a year from 2,000 ships – nearly half of the country’s inbound shipping freight.

Sharon Graham, general secretary of Unite, the union that called for the strike, claimed that the company that operates the “hugely profitable” dock and its parent company, CK Hutchison Holding Ltd, valued shareholders’ profits more than workers’ well-being. .

“They can give Felixstowe employees a decent raise. It is clear that both companies have prioritized delivering multimillion-pound profits and dividends rather than paying their employees a decent wage,” she said.

The Port of Felixstowe said in a statement it regretted the impact the strikes would have on UK supply chains. It said workers were offered a pay raise “averaging more than 8% in the current year”.

Britons face the worst cost of living crisis in decades as wages fail to keep pace with inflation and food costs and energy bills rise. According to the latest statistics, inflation is at 10.1%, the highest point in 40 years.

The circumstances led to summer strikes by train and subway workers after the failure of wage talks in June. Only one in five British trains ran on Saturday during the third railway strike in as many days.

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On Friday, most of London’s underground lines were closed due to a separate strike. Postmen, lawyers, British Telecom staff and garbage collectors have all announced strikes for later this month.

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