Scottish Grangemouth Workers Walk Out

The announced strike over shift change cuts at Scottish port Grangemouth was launched this morning as the workers stopped all maritime activities within the port’s container terminal, the UK’s union Unite confirmed.

The industrial action, which started at 00.01 hours, is scheduled to last for an initial period of two weeks, until March 29.

Members of the union gathered at the port in the evening hours of March 14 to protest the changes to rotas and pay, proposed by port operator Forth Ports, which would affect pay by up to GBP 1,800 (USD 2,546) a year, the union said.

The proposed shift rotations at the port would include a 25 per cent increase in weekend shift work with the removal of overtime pay rates, a decrease in night shift cover from one week in seven and one week in eight, as well as an increase in the number of shift teams from seven to eight, Unite added.

According to the union, the removal of weekend overtime rates would cost operatives up to GBP 1,600 a year and the reduced night shift would cover an additional GBP 200 a year, while a wage freeze has also been imposed by the company for 2016/17.

“We are on the verge of a prolonged strike action at Scotland’s biggest port because of Forth Ports’ draconian approach to employment relations,” Unite regional officer, Sandy Smart, said.

“The basics of good relations are consultation and negotiation but Forth Ports completely ignored this to impose a range of measures that will cause significant financial detriment to its employees.

“We have repeatedly approached the employer in an effort to resolve this situation and avoid a damaging dispute but we have been stonewalled at every turn.

“The anger of our members is clear in the overwhelming support for strikes and their demands for proper negotiations concerning the future of their livelihoods.”

The proposed changes are expected to come into affect on April 3.

Forth Ports’ spokesperson was recently quoted by BBC as saying that the industrial action is “unjustified” because the change comes in response to the needs of customers.

During the industrial action landside operations will be maintained to allow containers currently in the terminal to be picked up, while general cargo, liquid cargo and warehousing would not be affected by the action and the port estate would remain open for tenants’ businesses, GAC said.

World Maritime News Staff

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