Svitzer strike Svitzer strike. Photo: @unitetheunion / Twitter

Tugboat workers who went on strike have overturned a pay freeze and won an effective 7.5% pay increase, reports John Westmoreland

Tugboat crews employed by Svitzer Marine at Teesport, the UK’s fifth largest container port, began strike action a month ago in a dispute over pay.

The Svitzer dispute is another example of a hard-hearted, grasping employer trying to bully its workers into accepting a pay cut.

As Unite member Mick Rafferty reported in March:

“After yearlong talks with the company, during a cost of living crisis, the company have effectively imposed a pay freeze on the workforce.” 

Unite were in talks with Svitzer’s parent company, the shipping giant Maersk (A.P. Moller-Maersk A/S), for over a year before the tugboat crews decided they had had enough.

And it shows the bosses aren’t as tough as they pretend.

After a series of actions starting in March the tugboat crews were set to begin four days of action over the Easter weekend that would completely disrupt supplies coming through Teesport.

At the eleventh hour Svitzer Marine caved.

Unite official Pat McCourt described Svitzer’s sudden willingness to settle:

“The industrial action has changed the relationship with Svitzer Marine who now understand that they must treat our members with respect.”

The deal means the tugboat crews have won a 5 per cent rise on their basic rate and an uplift in allowances that takes the deal to around 7.5 per cent.

Teesport is another Tory Freeport project and the strikers have a struck a blow against their all-for-profit plans.

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John Westmoreland

John is a history teacher and UCU rep. He is an active member of the People's Assembly and writes regularly for Counterfire.

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