Portsmouth port faces strike threat

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QUAY workers at Portsmouth International Port could strike over new contracts.

The Unite union says the quay assistants, who are responsible for tying and untying the ferries at the port, are to be dismissed from their jobs and then rehired on different contracts.

These contracts would see their hours extended until after midnight – their current finishing time – and no pay rise for the extended hours.

Other, newer quay assistants, are already working under the new contracts, and have to watch as their colleagues clock-off at midnight while they must stay on.

The union balloted the quay workers over taking industrial action.

The result was unanimous: an overtime ban will be in place from 00.01 on Tuesday, July 24 until further notice and dates for full strike action will be decided in the next few days.

Unite convenor at Portsmouth City Council, Richard White, said: ‘The 100 per cent vote in favour of industrial action is a wake-up call for the council to get around the table to sort out this dispute in a meaningful way.

‘The quay assistants have the ability to cause disruption to cross-channel ferries at the peak of the holiday season and to other shipping by this industrial action.’

Unite regional officer, Ian Woodland, added: ‘We want Portsmouth to be a successful port, but not at the expense of our members. PCC needs to recognise the unique situation at the port and help us find a solution that suits both the port and our members.’

A spokesman for Portsmouth International Port said: ‘The quay assistants involved have been made several offers but have turned them down and this has lead to the current situation.

‘In order to have some certainty that we can serve our customers we need to bring this matter to a conclusion.’