Published: 12:14, 23 November 2021
| Updated: 15:45, 23 November 2021
Dock workers in Sheppey are considering striking over plans to cut more than 50 jobs.
The proposals, from employers GB Terminals, also include cutting overtime and has prompted a strike ballot from employees at Sheerness docks, which will take place between Thursday, November 25 and Thursday, December 9.
If a strike goes ahead, the import of Volkswagen (VW) vehicles, which include Audi, Porsche and Skoda, will be at risk.
More than 50 workers, who process and drive the vehicles off ferries arriving in Sheerness docks, will be impacted by the proposed job cuts and changes to minimum overtime hours.
Unite union, which represent the workers, has criticised the cuts.
General secretary Sharon Graham said: “These attacks on jobs and terms are being put forward just as GB Terminals is rebidding for VW’s Sheerness docks contract.
"Obviously, GB Terminals is now trying to cut its operating costs by unscrupulously targeting its own workers’ jobs and conditions.
“Unite will not stand by and watch our members’ jobs, pay and conditions being attacked.
"If our members in Sheerness vote for strike action, they will be supported by their union in their honourable fight for jobs, decent wages and conditions.”
The union has also called on VW to not renew its contract with GB Terminals if it continues to force through the plans.
If GB Terminals' contract with Volkswagen is not renewed, employees would transfer to a new employer under Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) with all terms and conditions protected.
Unite regional officer Phil Silkstone said: "GB Terminal’s behaviour towards its Sheerness staff is motivated by greed not need.
"Volkswagen has a reputation to uphold and will not be pleased that one of its contractors is behaving in such a manner.
“If GB Terminals does not drop these plans, Volkswagen should not renew their contract and instead find another provider who can TUPE over these workers on the same terms and conditions.”
Unite previously called the plans to make workers redundant a "sneaky precursor to fire and rehire".
GB Terminals has been approached for comment.