Final day dawns for Yarmouth dockers

THE last six dockers at Great Yarmouth port are due to finish tomorrow, but union officials have pledged to continue the fight over the cuts instigated by EastPort UK.

THE last six dockers at Great Yarmouth port are due to finish tomorrow, but union officials have pledged to continue the fight over the cuts instigated by EastPort UK.

Victor Brazkiewicz, industrial organiser with union Unite, said there was a chance ports on the European continent could refuse to handle ships coming through the outer harbour due to anger at the dockers' treatment.

His suggestion followed a heated public meeting at the Town Hall last Thursday, attended by 60 dockers, at which Unite's Felixstowe organiser Geordie Landles said calls could be made to foreign ports urging them not to having any dealings with the outer harbour.

Mr Brazkiewicz said: “I thought the meeting went exceedingly well. We had a very good turnout with the support of other parties. Putting pressure on other ports was one of the key issues discussed at the meeting.


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“At the appropriate time, they may well put pressure on by refusing to handle ships coming through Yarmouth. There is a strong likelihood of something happening. When trade begins I think Yarmouth could find itself under increasing pressure.”

Yarmouth MP Tony Wright spoke in support of the dockers at the packed meeting and said he was disappointed the borough and county councils had not made more effort to prevent the job cuts as both authorities had contributed financially to the harbour development.

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He believed rather than cutting dockers, more staff would be needed given the port's facilities were being extended and he could not understand why the job cuts were made.

Mr Wright said: “I certainly don't think the borough council and county council were forthright in making representations in terms of employment in that area. They could say it is a private matter as it is a private company, but they are stakeholders in the outer harbour so I would have thought making representations would not have hurt and would have been positive.”

Dockers from Felixstowe, Harwich and Tilbury joined the meeting to vent their anger at EastPort's decision to cut the final six workers, some with up to 20 years experience, and warned it could put lives in danger.

Brendan Gold, national secretary of Unite, said he could not understand how �50m had been spent on the new outer harbour yet jobs were being axed. He feared EastPort wanted to employ casual labour on “zero hours contracts” and people would be sent a text by

mobile phone asking if they wanted to work.

He said: “In a few years' time things will change and they will be wanting workers, but they will get people through agencies with no skills or training and no health and safety awareness. There will be an accident.”

EastPort, the leaders of the borough and county councils and the East of England Development Agency all declined invitations to attend.

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