Port of Liverpool Plans Layoffs Due to Continuing Volume Declines

Port of Liverpool
Port of Liverpool plans to layoff dockwokers due to continuing volume declines (Peel Ports)

Published Sep 22, 2023 3:20 PM by The Maritime Executive

Faced with a prolonged downturn in container volumes and saying it sees no meaningful improvements ahead, UK port operator Peel Ports is planning to lay off up to eight of its workforce at the two container terminals in Liverpool. Management filed the official notifications required under British labor law on Friday starting a period of consultation with the union before moving forward with the layoffs.

Peel Ports in a statement called the decision “extremely regrettable but unavoidable,” citing the continuing low volumes at UK ports. The company is saying it will do everything possible to offer alternate positions, while Unite the labor union said it would also seek to reassign employees to other roles.

The Port of Liverpool has approximately 850 employees with its primary operation at two container terminals. Peel reports that it is considering layoffs of up to 125 people with the consultant period expected to take up to 45 days.

They are reporting that overall, UK ports experienced a decline in volume of around 12 percent during the first half of this year. This comes after a seven percent decline in 2022. Executives from Peel Ports are citing the impact of inflation which has resulted in lower consumer demand for manufactured goods. They also cited geopolitical issues and fears of a pending recession.

While not as large as Felixstowe, the Port of Liverpool is one of the primary ports in the west of England which also has links to Scotland, Ireland, and inland ports along the Manchester Ship Canal. The port had been handling approximately 75,000 TEU a month with on average 60 ship calls.

Last year, the port was hit by three strikes during a contract dispute with Unite. Wage and work rule negotiations deadlocked in August 2022, resulting in the first strike in September. An agreement was reached in early November, but there had been talk of a possible restructuring in the future based on the continuing pressure on the port operator.