Workers at the Port of Felixstowe look set to walk out next month after last-minute talks to avert strike action failed.
Eighty per cent of the 1,800 Unite members at the port took part in the vote, with a majority of 92% voting in favour of industrial action.
The dispute follows the Felixstowe Dock and Railway Company offering a pay increase of 5% to its workers.
Union bosses say this is an effective pay cut with RPI currently standing at 11.9%.
Today, Unite leaders and port chiefs met for further discussions to try to prevent industrial action.
However, the union says no improved offer has been made, meaning strikes are likely.
The union says that if the company fails to take advantage of this gesture then strikes are set to begin next month.
Any action could mean vessels have to be diverted away from Felixstowe to ports elsewhere in the UK or Europe.
Sharon Graham, Unite general secretary, said: “This is a staggeringly wealthy company that can fully afford to make its workers a fair pay offer but it is choosing not. Managers are cynically prioritising paying dividends over workers' wages.
“Unite is committed to enhancing the jobs, pay and conditions of its members and it will be giving the workers at Felixstowe its complete support until this dispute is fully resolved and a fair pay offer is made.”
Miles Hubbard, Unite regional officer, said: “Strike action at Felixstowe will inevitably cause huge disruption across the UK’s supply chain but this is a dispute of the company’s own making due to its failure to make its workforce a realistic pay offer.
“As an act of goodwill Unite is providing the company with a short window of opportunity to make a vastly improved offer. If the Felixstowe Dock and Railway Company fail to grasp this opportunity, then strikes will be announced and the resulting disruption will occur.”
A spokesman for the Port of Felixstowe said: “The company made what we believe to be a very fair offer and we are disappointed with the result of the ballot. Both parties are still talking and we hope to avoid any industrial action.”
Source: East Anglian Daily Times