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Felixstowe port strike to go ahead after talks break down | Business News

An eight-day strike at the UK’s biggest container port will go ahead after talks between bosses and unions broke down.

More than 1,900 members of Unite will strike from Sunday 21 August until Monday 29 August, unhappy with the 7% pay rise offered by Felixstowe Dock and Railway Company following a 1.4% increase last year.

A spokesman for the port authority said: “We are disappointed and regret that, despite our best efforts, we have still been unable to reach an agreement with the hourly branch of Unite.

“During talks yesterday the port further improved its position, offering a £500 lump sum in addition to 7%.

“The staff branch of Unite and the Police Federation of Felixstowe Dock and Railway Company have agreed to put a similar offer to their members.

“In contrast, the hourly branch of Unite has again rejected the port’s improved position and refused to put it to its members.

“We urge them to consult their members on the latest offer as soon as possible. There will be no winners from a strike which will only result in their members losing money they would otherwise have earned.

“Our focus has been to find a solution that works for our employees and protects the future success of the port. The union has rejected the company’s offer to meet again.”

Read more:
Who is going on strike this month and when

Unite national officer Robert Morton said: “Felixstowe docks is massively profitable. In 2020 alone, it raked in £61m in pre-tax profits and paid dividends of £99m.

“It can afford to put forward a reasonable pay offer to our members but once again has chosen not to.

“That decision was driven by greed not need. Unite’s door remains open for further talks but strike action will go ahead unless the company tables an offer that our members can accept.”

Almost half of the UK’s container traffic comes through Felixstowe and Unite said the action would hit supply chains, the logistics and haulage sectors, as well as international maritime trade.

It is the latest round of industrial action by workers pushing for pay to keep up with the rising cost of living.

Rail passengers facing more disruption as train drivers announce strike on busy weekend | UK News

Rail passengers are facing a fresh wave of disruption as train drivers from several companies have announced another strike over a long-running dispute about pay and working conditions.

The 24-hour walkout on Saturday 13 August will coincide with a busy weekend of football, with Premier League games in Manchester, London, Birmingham and Brighton likely to be affected.

Organised by members of the Aslef union, the strike will affect services run by Arriva Rail London, Avanti West Coast, CrossCountry, Greater Anglia, Great Western, Hull Trains, LNER, London Overground, Southeastern and West Midlands Trains.

Timetables are due to be published on 9 August, but passengers are being advised to follow the latest travel advice, check before they set off and allow extra time for their journey.

While companies not involved in the strike will continue running trains, these are expected to be busier than normal.

The industrial action will also affect services running on the morning of Sunday 14 August, with those planning to travel told to consider starting their journey later in the day.

There have been several strikes held so far this year, with unions calling for a pay increase due to the rising cost of living and raising concerns around job security and working conditions.

Earlier this summer, an RMT walkout became the largest British rail strike in 30 years.

In recent weeks, extensive talks have been held over the issues, but the dispute remains unsolved.

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Stationary trains at London stations

‘We must modernise and adapt’

Chairman of the Rail Delivery Group, Steve Montgomery, said: “We’re really disappointed that the Aslef leadership has, for the second time in as many weeks, decided to impose yet more uncertainty for passengers and businesses by disrupting passengers’ weekend plans.

“Like any service or business, things do not just stand still, and we must move with the times. We want to give our people a pay rise, as we know everyone is feeling the pinch due to the cost of living rises.”

He added that further strikes will see people “out of pocket” and urged leaders of Aslef to come forward and reach a deal that is “fair to staff and taxpayers”.

“I will reiterate what I’ve previously said – I am ready and willing to talk to the leadership of Aslef today, tomorrow or indeed any time next week,” Mr Montgomery said.

“They should call off next week’s action and talk to us instead. What our passengers and our staff expect is for us to talk and work out a way through this.”

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Can people get a refund?

Passengers with advance, off-peak or anytime tickets affected by the strike can use their ticket either on the day before the date it was intended to be used, or up until 16 August.

They can also change their tickets to travel on an alternate date.

If their train is cancelled or rescheduled, they are able to get a refund.

Read more:
What you need to know as rail strikes continue
Labour leader has ‘not lost control of his MPs’

Are there any more strikes planned?

Two further days of strikes have already been announced, with members of the RMT at Network Rail and 14 train operators planning to walk out on 18 and 20 August.

The Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association (TSSA) has also agreed to strike at seven train operating companies on the same days.

This will affect services run by Avanti West Coast, c2c, East Midlands Railway, CrossCountry, Great Western Railway, LNER, and Southeastern.

London Underground workers are also set to strike on 19 August.

Felixstowe strike: Workers at UK’s biggest container port to walk off the job for eight days | Business News

Workers at the UK’s biggest container port will go on strike for more than a week later this month in a dispute over pay.

More than 1,900 members of Unite union at Felixstowe will strike for eight days from Sunday 21 August until Monday 29 August.

The union said that employer Felixstowe Dock and Railway Company had failed to improve on its offer of a 7% pay increase, following only a 1.4% increase last year.

Almost half of the UK’s container traffic comes through Felixstowe and Unite said the action would hit supply chains, the logistics and haulage sectors, as well as international maritime trade.

It is the latest round of industrial action by workers pushing for pay to keep up with the cost of living.

Unite national officer for docks Bobby Morton said: “Strike action will cause huge disruption and will generate massive shockwaves throughout the UK’s supply chain, but this dispute is entirely of the company’s own making.

“It has had every opportunity to make our members a fair offer, but has chosen not to do so. Felixstowe needs to stop prevaricating and make a pay offer which meets our members’ expectations.”

‘Massively profitable and incredibly wealthy’

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said both Felixstowe docks and its parent company Hong Kong-based CK Hutchison are “massively profitable and incredibly wealthy”, adding: “They are fully able to pay the workforce a fair day’s pay.

“The company has prioritised delivering multi-million pound dividends rather than paying its workers a decent wage.

“Unite is entirely focused on enhancing its members’ jobs, pay, and conditions, and it will be giving the workers at Felixstowe its complete support until this dispute is resolved, and a decent pay increase is secured.”

More talks are due to take place on Monday.

Read more:
London Tube strike announced for 19 August in row over jobs and pensions
Two more days of rail strikes announced in row over jobs, pay and conditions

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‘We need to remove power of militant unions’

In a statement supplied to Sky News, a spokesperson for the port said: “The company continues to actively seek a solution that works for all parties and that avoids industrial action.

“We understand our employees’ concerns at the rising cost of living and are determined to do all we can to help whilst continuing to invest in the port’s success.

“Discussions are ongoing and the company’s latest position in negotiations is an enhanced pay increase of 7%. We are meeting again on Monday 8 August with Acas and the union.

“The port has not had a strike since 1989 and we are disappointed that the union has served notice of industrial action while talks are ongoing. The port provides secure and well-paid employment and there will be no winners from industrial action.”

The Department for Transport has also been contacted for comment.

Felixstowe welcomes approximately 2,000 ship each year, according to its website, including some of the world’s largest container vessels.

Around 17 shipping lines operate from the port, offering 33 services to and from more than 700 ports around the world.

The next rail strike: What you need to know as industrial action continues | UK News

More than 40,000 rail workers will strike next week after talks failed to resolve a dispute over pay, jobs, and conditions.

Members of two unions will walk out on Wednesday, 27 July, affecting rail services across the country – the latest industrial action adding to the country’s transport woes.

Who is going on strike?

Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) at Network Rail, Chiltern Railways, CrossCountry Trains, Greater Anglia, LNER, East Midlands Railway, c2c, Great Western Railway, Northern Trains, South Eastern, South Western Railway, TransPennine Express, Avanti West Coast, West Midlands Trains and GTR (including Gatwick Express).

Members of the Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association (TSSA) at Avanti West Coast.

The train operator I use is not on the list, so my travel won’t be affected, right?

Not necessarily.

Network Rail said all train operators may be affected, whether they are part of the dispute or not.

Signallers, for example, control train movements across the whole country.

Will the London Underground be affected?

The industrial action doesn’t involve workers at Transport for London, but there could be disruption on the lines that share track with Network Rail.

These are the District, Bakerloo, and Elizabeth lines, as well as the London Overground.

There could also be disruption the morning after the strike – 28 July – as things return to normal.

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What if I do have to use the trains?

Passengers have been told to expect disruption and only travel if necessary.

But if you really are determined or desperate, be aware that trains will start later and finish much earlier than usual.

The timetable will be published later today (Saturday 23 July) but Network Rail said it will be “very limited” – around 20% of services will run.

Some parts of the country will have no service at all.

What events could be affected by the rail strike?

The women’s Euro 2022 semi-final is in Milton Keynes on the day of the strike.

The opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games is in Birmingham the next day.

I’ll just drive or fly

That’s not going to be much fun either.

Roads are busy with summer holiday traffic – the Port Of Dover had queues of up to six hours on Friday, while the usual culprits such as parts of the M25 and M5 are still best avoided during busy times.

As for flights, staff shortages at airports and airlines have resulted in thousands of flights being cancelled and delayed – with no end in sight.

What are the strikes about?

Network Rail’s lead negotiator Tim Shoveller said the company had offered workers a two-year 8% pay deal with a guarantee of no compulsory redundancies, and other benefits.

He said the RMT had “walked away without giving their members a voice or a choice”.

“Our door remains open to try and avert this pointless action that will cost strikers dear.

“We will now consider how we will move forward with our reform plans despite the RMT obstinacy.”

The RMT said there has been no change or improvement in the pay offers it has received.

RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said Network Rail had “upped the ante, threatening to impose compulsory redundancies and unsafe 50% cuts to maintenance work if we did not withdraw our planned strike action”.

“The train operating companies have put driver-only operations on the table along with ransacking our members’ terms and conditions.

“RMT will continue to negotiate in good faith but we will not be bullied or cajoled by anyone.”

Read more:
RMT’s Mick Lynch criticises ‘politicians’ prattle’ over rail workers’ pay

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London Southend Airport offers to host flights being cancelled by bigger, struggling airports

What do the train operators say?

A spokesman for the Rail Delivery Group, which represents the operators, said: “Sadly, these RMT strikes will upset passengers’ summer plans, undermine businesses and upend the industry’s recovery, making it more difficult to fund a settlement.

“We want to give our people an increase in pay, but we have a responsibility to do that by making reasonable changes to long outdated working practices – already successfully introduced in some parts of the network – which will improve punctuality, reliability and passenger experience.

“The alternative is to ask passengers to pay more when they too are feeling the squeeze, or asking the taxpayer to contribute even more towards the running of the railway on top of the record amounts spent keeping trains running during the pandemic and with revenue still 20% down on pre-COVID levels. Neither of those options is fair.

“Rather than going ahead with these counterproductive strikes, we ask the RMT’s leadership to continue talking so we can come to a deal that works for our people, our passengers and for taxpayers.”

And the government?

A Department for Transport spokesperson said: “The rail industry has to modernise and be brought into the 21st century for the benefit of passengers and staff.

“We’re extremely disappointed to see that instead of staying at the table, RMT executives have chosen to walk away once more.

“We continue to encourage RMT to do the right thing by their members and passengers alike and call off the strikes.”

If there is no breakthrough, what happens next?

More strikes.

Members of drivers’ union Aslef at eight train operators will go on strike on 30 July. This will affect Chiltern, LNER, Northern, TransPennine Express, Arriva Rail London, Great Western, Southeastern and West Midlands Trains. Earlier this month, Aslef members at ScotRail voted to accept an improved pay offer from their bosses.

There are more RMT strikes planned for 18 and 20 August.

A-level and GCSE results could be impacted as 72-hour exam board staff strike announced | UK News

The delivery of thousands of GCSE and A-level results could be impacted as workers at exam board AQA prepare for a 72-hour strike.

The walkout was announced by Unison over pay.

Members will walk out for three days from Friday 29 July to Sunday 31 July – with warnings that industrial action could escalate unless talks are reopened.

This year, GCSE students will get their results on Thursday 25 August, while A-Level results will be released on Thursday 18 August.

While results can be mailed to students or available on email, most students collect their results in person.

Many of the staff involved in the strike say they are struggling to make ends meet following successive below-inflation pay awards, Unison said.

Staff were given an increase of 0.6% last year, with 3% offered this year, which Unison said is a real-terms pay cut.

Unison official Lizanne Devonport said the workers have been left with “no other option” but to strike.

GCSE and A-level examiners have been asked to be more generous this year, with advanced information released to help students with assessments.

The decision to publish details of topics that appeared was taken to mitigate the pandemic’s impact on education.

More than 40,000 BT workers to begin strike action at the end of July, union says | Business News

More than 40,000 BT workers will go on strike on 29 July and 1 August, the Communication Workers Union (CWU) has said.

The union said the industrial action may cause “significant issues” for those working from home and is likely to have a “serious effect” on the rollout of ultra-fast broadband.

BT staff voted last month to go on strike for the first time in 35 years, with union bosses arguing that a £1,500 pay rise proposed by the company was inadequate to help staff deal with the cost of living crisis.

The former state-owned monopoly is responsible for answering all 999 calls and has been drawing up contingency plans to manage any disruption, Sky News understands.

CWU general secretary Dave Ward said: “For the first time since 1987, strike action will now commence at BT Group.

“This is not a case of an employer refusing to meet a union’s demands – this is about an employer refusing to meet us whatsoever.

“The serious disruption this strike may cause is entirely down to [chief executive] Philip Jansen and his friends, who have chosen to stick two fingers up to their own workforce.”

Read more: BT shows it is not as stretched financially as it was a few years ago

He said BT staff had received a real-terms pay cut as a reward for working “under great difficulty” during the pandemic.

“These are the same workers who kept the country connected during the pandemic,” he said.

“Without CWU members in BT Group, there would have been no home-working revolution, and vital technical infrastructure may have malfunctioned or been broken when our country most needed it.”

He said Mr Jansen had “gifted himself” a £3.5m pay package amounting to a 32% pay increase, while BT’s chief financial officer received £2.2m – a 25% increase.

He said £700m has also been paid out to shareholders.

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“The reason for the strike is simple: workers will not accept a massive deterioration in their living standards,” Mr Ward said.

“We won’t have bosses using Swiss banks while workers are using food banks.

“BT Group workers are saying: enough is enough. We are not going to stop until we win.”

Deputy general secretary Andy Kerr said management had refused to meet the union to negotiate a pay deal.

BT says its pay award was the highest in 20 years

BT Group said it will work to minimise any disruption and “keep our customers and country connected” using “tried and tested processes” for large-scale absences which were proven to work during the pandemic.

The company said it spent two months negotiating with the CWU at the start of this year.

“When it became clear that we were not going to reach an accord, we took the decision to go ahead with awarding our team member and frontline colleagues the highest pay award in more than 20 years, effective 1st April,” a spokesperson said.

“We have confirmed to the CWU that we won’t be re-opening the 2022 pay review, having already made the best award we could.

“We’re balancing the complex and competing demands of our stakeholders and that includes making once-in-a-generation investments to upgrade the country’s broadband and mobile networks, vital for the UK economy and for BT Group’s future – including our people.”

BT is among a string of companies, including British Airways and Royal Mail, that are facing the most significant industrial unrest for years as millions of Britons struggle to cope with soaring inflation.