Port workers to strike

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Hundreds of workers at one of the country's busiest ports are to stage a fresh round of strikes in a row over the outsourcing of jobs.

Members of the Unite union at Dover ended their second walkout yesterday as part of their campaign to keep their work in-house.

Several hundred workers at the port went on strike although the Dover Harbour Board said the action had no impact on the port's traffic, with non-union staff keeping ferry crossings running.

Jane Jeffery, Unite regional industrial organiser, confirmed today that they have informed port management of a third series of stoppages in the week beginning December 8.

She said: "The members are determined to beat the transfer of jobs. If we need to go to talks at a later stage we will do so but at the moment we only have a limited amount of time to stop the transfer.

"At the moment the company is only prepared to talk on its terms but we want open-minded discussions because our members have a whole host of concerns, including about pay and conditions and pensions."

Bob Goldfield, chief executive of Dover Harbour Board, called on the union to enter meaningful discussions to end the dispute.

He told BBC Radio Kent: "Clearly the strikes are having no effect on the port's traffic. It's pointless and the union must come to the table and negotiate the details of the job transfers with Acas."

He added: "The first transfer date is January 5 which is only five weeks away and the second date is February 1 which is about nine weeks away. Five weeks and nine weeks isn't an awful lot of time to get these talks under way."