UK supply chain under control despite strike, says port trade body
Port trade body UK Major Ports Group said that, despite the ongoing eight-day strike at Felixstowe, the UK supply chain remains under control.
Tim Morris, chief executive of UK Major Ports Group, told City A.M. that the impact on end consumers “might be less and more spread out than some people might think” as supply chains have become increasingly more resilient since Covid.
“Companies have [also] been working to prepare for this strike and the UK has a broad network of ports,” he said.
Options available to shipping companies include rerouting traffic to other UK ports – including Southampton and London Gateway – or discharge the UK-bound containers to neighbouring EU ports.
Maersk – which has three cargo vessels rerouting away from Felixstowe due to the walkout – said it will direct one to London Gateway while the other two will dock at Le Havre and Antwerp respectively.
“These are the options, it’s a fluid picture on the ground, with other mitigations like big shipping lines changing vessel schedules to avoid Felixstowe during the strike period,” Morris added.
The comments come as around 1,900 dock workers today embarked on the second of an eight-day industrial action over salaries.
Felixstowe’s authority had fattened its initial 7 per cent pay increase with a £500 lump sum, but that was rejected by the union Unite on 9 August as it was below inflation rates of 10.1 per cent.
The industrial action prompted analysts to predict the strike would “likely result in interrupted supplies for supermarkets as well as exports.”
“From an economic standpoint, a disruption to trade is the last thing the UK needs right now,” said Sophie Lund-Yates, lead equity analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown.
“There are already far-reaching productivity problems which keep a lid on economic growth, with an avoidable blip such as port strikes adding insult to an existing injury.