Foyle port workers striking to win a cost of living increase and Burke Shipping workers demand pay parity with other dockers in Foyle and across Northern Ireland.
Unite confirmed that its members at both Foyle Port and Burke Shipping Service, based in Foyle port, will conduct their second and third days of strike action at the port tomorrow [Monday, December 6th] with pickets going up from 7am.
On Thursday the all-party Governance and Strategic Planning committee of Derry City and Strabane District Council called for port employers to end the dispute by meeting the workers’ pay claim. But despite this, Foyle Port and Burke Shipping Services management continued to refuse to meet the workers’ pay claim.
In the last year Foyle port declared pre-tax profits of £1.3 million, Meanwhile the latest accounts for Burke Shipping Services show their pre-tax profits almost doubled in the first year of the lockdown and their parent company – Fane Valley Co-op – posted profits of more than £12 million last year – double that of the year previous.
Sharon Graham, Unite General Secretary, offered her full backing to the striking workers.
“Port workers have played a vital role in ensuring the economy has continued to function over the last two years. They are entitled to receive decent and fair pay. The Foyle Port workers are striking to win a modest, inflation-proofed pay increase and the Burke Shipping workers are striking to win basic pay parity with others doing the same job as themselves.
“Their employers are highly successful and profitable and can well afford to give their workers a decent wage. My union is pledged to defend the jobs pay and conditions of our members. The Foyle Port workers and those at Burke Shipping will have the full backing of Unite”.
Unite Regional Officer for the workforce Gareth Scott challenged the employers on their stance.
“Foyle Port bosses have made great play of their company’s resilient performance and its profitability despite the lockdown; but amid surging inflation they offered their workers an insulting 0.4 percent increase. Meanwhile Burke Shipping Services refuse to pay their workers the same rate as other port workers or indeed port workers elsewhere in Northern Ireland.
“Unite is calling time on the idea that workers from the Northwest can be paid less than elsewhere in Northern Ireland. Londonderry port and harbour Commissioners and Burke Shipping Service both need to show respect to these workers and this community and meet their workforce’s pay claim in full. If not, the huge disruption to port operations that has resulted from the one-day strikes will escalate dramatically in coming days and weeks”, Mr Scott concluded.