Strike action which threatened to disrupt cross-Channel ferry sailings in and out of Portsmouth suspended pending vote on new contract proposals


Industrial action which threatened to disrupt cross-Channel ferry sailings in and out of Portsmouth has been suspended pending a vote on new proposals negotiated with the local authority employers.

Quay assistants at the centre of the ‘new contract’ dispute at Portsmouth International Port are to vote on a deal hammered out between Unite and management in talks yesterday.

In a joint statement,Portsmouth City Council (PCC) and Unite, which represents the quay assistants, said:”Unite the union and port management met yesterday afternoon (Monday, 23 July).

“An alternative proposal was brought forward from port management.

“After consultation with Unite members, all industrial action has been suspended, while the union conducts a consultative ballot, the result of which will be known by the afternoon of Friday, 27 July.”

The new contracts at the centre of the dispute would require the quayside staff to guarantee to service vessels beyond their contractual finishing time of midnight until 5.45am the following day.

Unite regional officer, Ian Woodland said: “We have come to an agreement with PCC management and are putting the offer to our members.

“Basically, management has agreed to bring people on inferior contracts up to the superior contracts and all overtime after midnight for any late sailings would be voluntary.

“Our members have agreed to suspend action until the consultative ballot ends at noon on Friday, 27 July.”

The 18 quay assistants are responsible for tying up and releasing cross-channel ferries, and had been planning to start an overtime ban today, with the prospect of strike action later if the dispute was not resolved.

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