Businesses are expected to face severe disruption as workers at Britain's largest container port walk out on strike for the first time since 1989.

Workers undertaking manual roles at the docks including crane drivers, machine operators and stevedores will stage an eight-day walkout from Sunday, August 21.

It follows Port of Felixstowe bosses and union leaders failing to come to an agreement after the port's Unite members voted in favour of industrial action by a majority of 92% as part of a pay dispute.

Paul Simon, head of public affairs and strategic communications at Suffolk Chamber of Commerce, said: “The Chamber continues to urge both sides to restart meaningful negotiations to avoid industrial action, even at this late stage, not least because this is yet another potential trading headwind facing a business community that already has a great deal with which to contend.

“Chamber members we’ve spoken to certainly seem to have successfully implemented a range of short-term contingency plans to maintain their immediate flow of components and finished goods, but they are concerned about the consequences of a protracted dispute."

Strikes are expected to have a huge impact on the UK's supply chain and could cause severe disruption to international maritime trade.

Felixstowe handles nearly half of the containerised freight entering the country and the action could mean vessels have to be diverted to ports elsewhere in the UK or Europe.

A port spokesman said the company "regrets the impact this action will have on UK supply chains" adding they are "working with customers to mitigate disruption".

He said: "We recognise these are difficult times but, in a slowing economy, we believe that the company’s offer, worth over 8% on average in the current year and closer to 10% for lower paid workers, is fair."

"Unite has failed our employees by not consulting them on the offer and, as a result, they have been put in a position where they will lose pay by going on strike.

"The port provides secure and well-paid employment and there will be no winners from this unnecessary industrial action.”

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Both Felixstowe docks and its parent company CK Hutchison Holding Ltd are both massively profitable and incredibly wealthy.

"They are fully able to pay the workforce a fair day’s pay.

“Unite is entirely focused on enhancing its members’ jobs, pay and conditions and it will be giving the workers at Felixstowe its complete support until this dispute is resolved and a decent pay increase is secured.”

More strike disruption set to hit railways

More disruption is set to hit Suffolk's railways as another round of rail union strikes goes ahead on Saturday, August 20.

Greater Anglia is encouraging passengers to avoid travelling and says services are set to be severely reduced and disrupted.

Sunday morning could also seem some trains disrupted, but services should resume as normal in the afternoon.

The action follows a dispute over pay between the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union and the rail companies that has been rumbling on since earlier June.

Unions blame Transport Secretary Grant Shapps for the deadlocked rail dispute.