Quay assistants at Portsmouth International Port are claiming victory after settling their dispute with the employer at the end of July. Unite regional officer Ian Woodland said, “This demonstrates the importance of collective action.We had a 100 per cent turnout on the vote for industrial action and this strong action made management reconsider its position.
The 18 assistants, responsible for tying up and releasing cross-Channel ferries, voted for industrial action earlier in June after the employer decided to dismiss them and rehire them on inferior contracts – in effect creating a two-tier workforce, said the union. Among other things, the new contract demanded that quay assistants guarantee to service vessels beyond their contractual finishing time of midnight.
Management made their move against the workforce after hiring new staff on the inferior contracts. But under the agreement reached after the assistants balloted for action, the two-tier arrangement is to be scrapped. “Basically, management has agreed to bring people on inferior contracts up to the contracts and all overtime after midnight will be voluntary,” said Woodland. ■