No fresh talks are planned between the Port of Felixstowe and striking workers as a renewed appeal was made to their trade union to return to the negotiating table.

Paul Davey, head of corporate affairs for Hutchison Ports, which runs the Port of Felixstowe, said discussions with the Unite union would not restart unless the eight days of strike action, which began on Sunday, were suspended.

He said the local economy in particular would experience the negative effects of the industrial dispute as the 1,900 workers involved would not be earning any money during the walkout, which would have been spent on local businesses.

He added over the eight days, the workers would usually be paid about £1.8m.

East Anglian Daily Times: No fresh talks are planned between the Port and the Unite union unless the strike is suspendedNo fresh talks are planned between the Port and the Unite union unless the strike is suspended (Image: Archant)

In addition, local hauliers would also suffer, Mr Davey said, because they would not be able to do any business while there was only a limited number of staff on duty at the port.

However, he said supply chains would be resilient and many businesses nationally already had contingency plans in place to deal with shocks to the system, such as the continued Covid-19 lockdowns in China and disruption in Europe, which included re-routing deliveries through other UK ports.

The port has offered the workers a 7% pay rise with an additional £500 and the Port of Felixstowe staff union was prepared to accept these terms, but the Unite workers voted to strike.

The picket involves workers performing manual roles, including crane drivers, machine operators and stevedores.

Mr Davey said: “We hope that common sense will prevail and the union will return to the negotiating table. This strike action’s costing our employees.

“It is emptying their pockets of money they can’t afford to lose at the moment, but are losing as a result of this strike.”

However, Unite national officer Robert Morton said he wanted a pay rise between 7% and 12.3% to reflect more closely the rate of inflation.

He added: “We’ve been asking for a minimum of the rate of inflation. The RPI at the moment is at (12.3%).

“However, if we can sit down and thrash this out, there will be a figure between 7% and 12.3% that’s acceptable to my membership.”