Freight News, Sea

Liverpool to hold redundancy talks as box volumes plunge

[ September 22, 2023   //   ]

Peel Ports says it will begin redundancy consultations with staff at its container division, following a “sustained and significant deterioration” in volumes at the port of Liverpool.

It said the decision wa  “extremely regrettable but unavoidable”, given the ongoing economic backdrop. It added: “Where possible, every effort will be made to redeploy affected staff to alternative roles within the business.”

Estimates show that in the first half of 2023 there was a drop in UK container volumes of around 12%, following a 7% decline in 2022 and Peel says that forecasts show no meaningful improvement in the near future.

Following discussions with Unite the Union officials on 22 September, the company is scheduled to start issuing formal consultation notices to the union and employees at the container terminal, which employs around 850 staff, indicating the possibility of up to 125 redundancies. The consultation is expected to take 45 days.

Port director, Liverpool Containers Division, Ian Cressey, said: “This is a decision we have been wrestling with for many months and it’s the last thing anyone at the port wants to face. We deeply regret the impact this will have on our people, but the sustained and significant deterioration in the global container market has forced our hand.  

“These are challenges being faced by every other port operator in the market and we’ve done everything possible to safeguard jobs despite markedly declining global container volumes over the past two years.

“However, we’ve now, very reluctantly, had to take the difficult but responsible decision to bring our operations more in line with what are some of the most challenging market conditions we’ve seen in many years. It’s extremely regrettable, but unavoidable.

“We will, of course, provide all the support we can to colleagues affected at this difficult time, working with them throughout the whole process.”

The port will accept voluntary redundancies and says it is committed to offering career transition advice and support, if this is required.

Peel Ports added that the £400 million Liverpool2 deep-sea container terminal, has created hundreds of additional, direct jobs and thousands more in the wider logistics and maritime sectors across the City Region.