LONDON, England: Workers at the UK's busiest container port, the Port of Felixstowe, have voted to strike in a dispute over pay.
The Unite union said 92 percent of those workers voting at the port voted for a strike action, after the Felixstowe Dock and Railway Company offered a pay increase of 5 percent, which the union stressed was effectively a pay cut.
"Both parties are still talking and we hope to avoid any industrial action. The company made what we believe to be a very fair offer and we are disappointed with the result of the ballot," said Port spokesman Paul Davey, as quoted by the BBC.
In a statement, labor union Unite said, "The dispute is a result of the Felixstowe Dock and Railway Company offering a pay increase of just 5 percent to its workers. This is an effective pay cut, with the real rate of inflation currently standing at 11.9 percent. Last year, the workforce received a below inflation pay increase of 1.4 percent."
Unite general secretary Sharon Graham added, "The bottom line is this is an extremely wealthy company that can fully afford to give its workers a pay rise. Instead, it chose to give bonanza pay outs to shareholders touching 100m pounds."
Unite regional officer Miles Hubbard said, "Strike action at Felixstowe will inevitably create huge disruptions across the UK's supply chain. This dispute is of Felixstowe's own making. Strike dates have yet to be announced, but even at this late stage the dispute could be resolved by the company returning to negotiations and making a realistic offer," according to the BBC.
Unite has some 1,900 members at the port.
About 2,550 people work at the Port of Felixstowe, which handles 48 percent of the UK's container trade, the union said.