After Strikes at Liverpool, Peel Ports Makes Plans for Layoffs

Container terminal at liverpool
File image courtesy Peel Ports

Published Oct 9, 2022 9:49 PM by The Maritime Executive

Labor union Unite has described a move by Peel Ports Group to declare redundancies at the port of Liverpool as a “cynical attempt to intimidate workers."

Peel Ports, which owns the port of Liverpool and other ports across the UK, has announced its intention to implement a layoff plan due to what it termed as a “marked deterioration” in container volumes.

“Whilst this is an extremely regrettable situation, as a responsible employer, we need to restructure now in order to minimize the potential greater impact the downturn in container business will have on jobs further down the line," a Peel Ports spokesperson told BBC.

The decision comes in the midst of an industrial action. Container operations at the port of Liverpool were paralyzed from September 19 through October 3 after 560 workers went on strike over wages. Another strike is planned from October 11 to 17, with more dockers expected to join the industrial action.

Peel Ports has offered the workers a pay raise of around 8.3 percent, an offer which has been rejected by union Unite, which is pushing for an increase in basic pay of at least 12.3 percent - equivalent to UK inflation. The union has also accused Peel Ports of failure to honor a 2021 pay agreement, refusal to undertake a promised pay review and failure to deliver on an agreement to improve shift rotas.  

With Peel Ports' plans to implement job cuts, Unite now says that strikes at Liverpool are now not about pay alone but also jobs.

According to the union, Peel Ports has paid out around $334 million in dividends over the past five years while the highest paid director received pay and benefits totaling $5 million last year, up from $1.7 million in 2020.

“Peel Ports’ plan is to pile up even more profit at the expense of its workers and their families. These months-old plans are nothing new and have ensured that this dispute is now about jobs and pay,” said Sharon Graham, Unite general secretary.

The port of Liverpool is one of the busiest container ports in Britain, handling an average of 700,000 TEU of cargo annually. Peel Ports says that it has invested $1.3 billion over the past decade into the port, creating over 900 new skilled jobs and in turn supporting over 7,200 additional local jobs in the supply chain.