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Drivers threaten to go on strike at Sheerness Docks

Imports of Porsche, Audi, Skoda, and Volkswagen cars could be hit if drivers at a Kent port go on strike.

Drivers at logistics firm GB Terminals (Southern) Ltd, based in Sheerness, are considering industrial action after union bosses said the company's management had walked out of pay negotiations.

Cars parked after being unloaded from a ship at Sheerness docks. Picture: John Nurden
Cars parked after being unloaded from a ship at Sheerness docks. Picture: John Nurden

Unite, the UK's largest union, represents drivers and other workers who move new Volkswagen Group vehicles off ferries at the docks run by Peel Ports on the Isle of Sheppey.

The cars are driven off the ferries and then parked ready to be collected by car transporters.

The ballot opened on Monday and will close on Monday, December 2.

Unite regional officer Philip Silkstone said: “Strike action by our members will seriously delay and disrupt the movement of Volkswagen Group vehicles between Sheerness and dealerships throughout the UK.

“It will also effect the distribution of new plate Volkswagen Group vehicles due to come out in March 2020.

Car transporter with imported vehicles at Sheerness Docks
Car transporter with imported vehicles at Sheerness Docks

"Moreover, Volkswagen will not be happy to learn that GB Terminals’ management have refused an offer of talks to resolve the dispute through the conciliation service Acas.

“Our members are only asking for a fair pay rise in line with inflation. It beggars belief that GB Terminals are petulantly refusing to engage in any form of talks over the issue.

“Unite hopes that GB Terminal’s management will see sense and return to negotiations before the dispute escalates.”

Unite said negotiations collapsed with no offer from the company.

The drivers have asked for a 3% increase in line with inflation. The union says GB Terminals (Southern) Ltd, which is part of the GBA group, has sought to impose a pay freeze.

Entrance to Sheerness docks
Entrance to Sheerness docks

It says GB Terminals has also refused an offer by Unite to involve the conciliation service Acas which led to members being balloted for strike action.

We have asked the company to comment.

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