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Port of Liverpool container division to begin redundancy consultations following significant deterioration in container volumes

Friday 22 September 2023 The Port of Liverpool is to begin redundancy consultations with staff at its container division, following a “sustained and significant deterioration” in container volumes at the port.

The port’s management said the decision was “extremely regrettable but unavoidable”, given the ongoing economic backdrop and confirmed that “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. Economic and industry forecasts show that no meaningful improvement is expected in the near future.

The declines are due to a combination of factors, including weaker consumer demand for manufactured goods as a direct result of inflation, recession concerns fueled by rising interest rates and wider geopolitical issues.

Following discussions with Unite the Union officials today, 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.

Ian Cressey, Port Director, Liverpool Containers Division, 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 has said it will accept voluntary redundancies and is committed to offering career transition advice and support, as well as assistance in finding new employment to affected employees, if this is required.

The investments Peel Ports has made over the years have restored Liverpool’s position as a global gateway between the UK and the rest of the world. The £400 million Liverpool2 project, the port’s 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.

More generally, Peel Ports has invested more than £1.2b over the last decade, creating over 900 new skilled jobs and in turn supporting over 7,200 additional local jobs in the supply chain.

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