Felixstowe Port sunrise photo

Strikes set to disrupt UK supply chains across multiple sectors

Bee Newboult profile face photo

17/08/2022

Marketing and Communications Manager UK/IE

The UK is the latest country to experience strikes, following on from the recent industrial action across Germany and other European countries. As with the Central Association of German Seaports (ZDS), the strikes in the UK logistics sector are over wage disagreements amongst soaring inflation.

But where are the UK strikes taking place, and how does this affect your business with Britain?

Strike at the Port of Felixstowe

The Unite trade union, who represent approximately 85% of Felixstowe’s dockworkers, have been unable to reach an agreement following a vote by their members to strike over pay.

The Felixstowe Port and Railway Company, who own the port, have offered a 7% pay increase and a bonus of £500, but this was rejected by the union as it does not consider the cost-of-living crisis and projected inflation. This follows a below-average pay increase of 1.4% last year.

The Port of Felixstowe strike will be from Monday 22nd August through Monday 29th August, with the eight-day duration allowing all (over 9000) Unite members to participate. This is because the port workers work on a four days on / four days off shift pattern.

The Felixstowe Port and Railway Company has stated that it is disappointed with the decision to strike. It is the first time that there has been a strike at Felixstowe since 1989, and the company advises that industrial action helps no one as the port loses business during the strike time.

Shipping lines that have liner schedules into Felixstowe have already rerouted a number of vessels. Some shipments will tranship from Europe later, but will need to contend with existing congestion from the German strikes. Others have been diverted to other UK ports, such as London Gateway.

Congestion at the Port of Felixstowe is expected to last a long time after the strike, as the backlog on quay, the transhipping of containers from Europe, and Christmas trade all compound the situation.

Felixstowe is also the largest rail terminal in the UK, and has already been impacted by train strikes.

Rail freight strikes

The rail freight and passenger industry in the UK has been affected by intermittent strikes since June, which saw three days of total shutdown. Over 2500 safety-critical people were on strike, meaning that trains across the UK were unable to run.

Industrial action began again on Saturday 13th August, and is expected to last for over a week as four different unions are on strike at the same time. The interruptions to service have resulted in congestion at ports and rail freight terminals across the UK.

Consequences of the UK’s strikes

The strikes at the Port of Felixstowe, and wider rail network, will cause major disruption across the UK. The logistics and haulage sectors will struggle to manage the throughput, which will lead to ongoing congestion in the lead up to Christmas.

For importers of perishable goods, such as the agricultural and food sectors, delays could mean loss of value or loss of sale as goods typically lose value when they are delayed in transit.

The construction industry, which has already seen record increases in costs due to the HGV driver shortage in the UK, will be hit with larger costs again due to the shortage of materials.

There may be some relief with the lower shipping volumes forecasted amongst the global; however, this will mostly affect shipments from the Far East, so this will only significantly impact congestion 30 days after a drop off in Asian imports.

Customs Support are here for you during the UK strikes

As providers of end-to-end customs clearance services, Customs Support can clear your goods in any sea or airport in the UK. Furthermore, if one of your vessels is diverted and you need assistance on local logistics service providers, we might have a recommendation for you.

Are your imports or exports that are affected by the UK strikes, contact us for assistance.