UK port workers join rail staff in strikes as prices soar

LONDON — Nearly 2,000 workers at Britain’s biggest container port will launch an eight-day strike on Sunday over a pay dispute, the latest industrial action to hit Britain’s economy.

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

The strike comes as people across the UK faced travel disruption on Saturday for the third day of this week as thousands of railway workers continued a summer of strikes for better pay and safety jobs amid soaring food and energy prices.

Only around one in five UK trains were due to run on Saturday, with some areas having no service all day. Football and cricket fans attending sports matches, as well as tourists, were among those affected. The disruptions will continue until Sunday and union leaders say more strikes are likely.

Most of London’s underground Tube lines were out of service on Friday due to a separate strike.

The Unite union alleges that the Port of Felixstowe’s parent company, CK Hutchison Holding Ltd., prioritized profits over paying workers a living wage.

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

Felixstowe handles nearly half of the containerized freight entering the country. The strike could mean ships 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 put inflation at 10.1% – a 40-year high – and growing numbers of Britons are struggling to cope with soaring energy and food bills as wages fail to catch up with the cost of health. life.

Postal workers, lawyers, British Telecom staff and garbage collectors have all announced walkouts for the end of the month.

Railway workers began a series of large-scale strikes that blocked national train travel in June, demanding better wages and working conditions as authorities try to reform the rail system, which has lost much of its revenue due to the coronavirus pandemic and changing travel habits. .

The government and transport unions have failed to reach a resolution despite months of talks.

ABC News

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