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Ongoing port strikes could increase material costs, CPA warns

The Construction Products Association (CPA) has warned that the ongoing threat of strike action at UK ports could spark a “scramble” for materials and raise prices.

Liverpool’s more than 500 port operators, Unite the Union, confirmed last week that they would strike over an “inadequate” 7% pay rise proposal, calling it an “actual pay cut”.

will bring Liverpool Container Port – one of the largest in the country – to a “standstill” and have a “serious impact” on shipping.

A company owned by Peel Ports (MDHC), maintenance engineer for Mersey Docks and Harbour, could also go on strike over the same pay offer.

Meanwhile, strike action at the Port of Felixstowe in Suffolk, UK, has begun, with an eight-day strike starting on Sunday (21 August) at the largest container port and will Ends August 29th.

Amid this disruption, CPA deputy chief executive Jeff May has warned that the construction industry could see supply delays and increased material costs.

He told Architectural News : “It is still early days, but the Action, our members tell us the impact on the UK construction industry will vary – probably manageable for most, but severe for some.

“Whether it’s finished goods or raw materials, anything that has been shipped to these ports may have to be redirected, perhaps across the UK, or even the EU. This means bottlenecks, delays and increased costs. The chain reaction can easily go on for weeks.

“For some, inventories may cushion the shock, but we know that low inventory levels for others may result in a scramble to source elsewhere or risk delays.”

May added that “good visibility and communication up and down the supply chain” from freight forwarders to end customers is essential to help make informed decisions, reduce risk and manage expectations.

In a previous article, CPA’s deputy chief executive argued that any strike action in the coming months would “intensify” existing pressures on the construction supply chain heading into the second half of the year.

A spokesman for Peel Ports Group said it was working closely with the construction supply chain to “manage their demand”.

They said: “The industry is huge and important to the economy, especially at this time, which we fully recognise. Thankfully, the Port of Liverpool and our wider network, benefit from Extensive storage and placement space. This capability, coupled with careful planning, will allow us to minimise disruption.”

A spokesperson for the Port of Felixstowe said , strike action is already underway, and a spokesman for the port said it was “disappointed” at the attempted action to call off the strike that had not yet begun.

They added: “The port regrets the impact this action will have on the UK supply chain. We appreciate the support of our customers and are working with them to mitigate disruption.”

CN reported in June that the rail strike had cost Network Rail’s construction project £50m.



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