DOCK workers have claimed their employer is using bullying tactics after they voted to seek a ballot over strike action after rejecting a 2.7 per cent pay offer from the owners of a North-East port.

The director of human resources from PD Ports has written to all members of the staff served by the Port Council stating he believes the ballot will prove ‘wholly futile’ and damage the company and its employees.

One worker who has received the letter believes that the tone of the letter is designed to intimidate colleagues who are fighting for a pay rise.

Loading article content

The Unite union member, who didn’t want to be named said: “Members voted in favour of holding a ballot for industrial action and the majority of the 440 staff voted in support.

“People might look at the offer of 2.7 percent and think it is well above average, which it is, but not many people realise the level of pay for many of the people who work at the docks. There are many workers who are being paid little more than minimum wage for what can be an extremely dangerous job.

“As far as I’m concerned this is a deliberate attempt to bully and intimidate workers into accepting their pay offer.”

Members of Unite were informed about the result of the vote at the beginning of the month and were warned that the process to get to a ballot for industrial action could take several weeks.

The letter from Russ McCallion (CORR), PD Ports’ group human resources director, was sent out last week to all staff who work at the docks near Middlesbrough.

“I am writing to you because I believe that there is a real danger that the Port Council is seeking industrial action that will prove both wholly futile and damaging to the company and our employees,” he wrote.

He added the offer will remain on the table until the end of April but staff were warned that there will not be an increase in the offer.

“The Port Council says that the company’s behaviour in confirming the final offer of 2.7 per cent increase is ‘insulting’. That is extraordinary. The company management has the utmost respect for our employees and does not feel that making an offer at the top end of our affordability and at the top end of all wage settlements does anything other than confirm that respect.

“The company has been totally honest in advising the Port Council from the start of negotiations that there was a realistic increase being tabled,” he wrote.

The date for the vote for industrial action has yet to be set.