The Unite Union’s 1,900 members at the Port of Felixstowe will start their eight day walkout this Sunday 21st August, returning Monday 29th and though some operations will be maintained at the port, significant disruption must be anticipated.
The Port of Felixstowe is removing the option to book vehicle booking slots (VBS) more than 24 hours in advance, which is available to large users of the port normally, and will instead release VBS slots each day, subject to the level of workforce present.
This means there will be very limited collection and delivery opportunities next week and neither the shipping lines or the port have offered any indication that they will extend free time during the strike action.
Our Felixstowe team have been working closely with the port and carriers, for some time, to move as many containers as possible to destination, or off-dock holding areas ahead of Sunday.
As we learn what contingencies the shipping lines are planning, we will react accordingly in the UK and, if necessary, on the continent.
Unofficially, we understand that some carriers have changed port rotations, so that vessels will arrive after the strike and others plan to remove Felixstowe bound containers at earlier port calls, to be collected by the following week’s vessel.
Dockworkers at the port of Liverpool have also voted to strike over wages and while no dates have yet been announced, it will not be before the 3rd week in September.
The inland movement of containers is being further disrupted today and Saturday as the RMT and TSSA rail unions withdraw labour, including drivers and critical operations staff, which means many freight services will not be running.
We understand that rail service operators do expect some freight services to keep running, with 30% of services operating today, 70% on Friday and 50% on Saturday 20th August.
Our sea freight operations are headquartered at Felixstowe, which means we have a big presence by the port and have resilient contingency plans in place for any disruption to operations and, when appropriate, will move cargo to alternative ports, to avoid delays and congestion.
We are monitoring the situation closely and will report on developments as they happen, so that you can make informed decisions and avoid possible issues, before they become problems.