Port workers pay cut vote

FLOATERS at Felixstowe Port yesterday hit back at claims they are being paid �500 a week to sit at home doing nothing.

Richard Cornwell

FLOATERS at Felixstowe Port yesterday hit back at claims they are being paid �500 a week to sit at home doing nothing.

The floaters - on call workers employed for when the container terminal is busy - said they had already taken a pay cut to help save jobs at the port, and most of them were working their full shifts.

However, they also said there was considerable friction between the floaters and fixed contract workers.

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One floater said that the standby workers had taken a cut in hours which mean they were now paid around �18,000 instead of �25,000 a year - a cut of more than �100 a week.

The employee added: “We have been getting a lot of abuse from the regular portworkers when we go in - yet we are legitimately employed by the port to go and work when we are needed.

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“Yes, a couple of months ago there was a period when we were not needed as much and we were sitting at home getting paid.

“The portworkers though get �35,000 a year, twice what we are now getting for doing exactly the same work, and when there are no ships coming in they sit around doing nothing in the mess room, but you never hear them complain about that.

“I have been a floater for more than a year, I can be called in anytime up until seven hours before I am needed. I have worked all my allocated shifts, never had a day sick and not refused a shift, and have now taken a pay cut to help keep not just my job but those of everyone on the port - and I have a mortgage and a family.

“The port must need us or they wouldn't employ us.”

Another floater said: “Many of us have given up well-paid jobs to work for the port because we thought it would give us a bit more money and stability. We have been fully trained and we just want to do our jobs.”

Head of corporate affairs at the port, Paul Davey, said following recent voluntary redundancies, the majority of the floaters had been converted to fixed-term contracts. The floaters gave the port flexibility to deal with its workload, crucial at peak times.

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