Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Redundancy threat for 58 Portsmouth Port cargo workers

MMD Shipping Services Ltd Image copyright Google
Image caption MMD Shipping Services said it would still be "the number one facility in the UK for fruit imports"

Fifty-eight workers at Portsmouth Port are at risk of redundancy after the loss of a fruit-shipping contract.

Cargo handling company MMD Shipping Services said staff were told after fruit importer Geest Line confirmed it was moving its operation to Dover.

Geest Line, a customer of council-owned MMD for 16 years, said the move was prompted by a need "to accommodate revised scheduling times".

MMD director Mike Sellers said he was "incredibly disappointed".

Voluntary redundancy options are also being considered.

Mr Sellers said there had been "no alternative" to losing the contract as it could not accommodate Geest on a different day of the week.

"The proposal is to cut the workforce by 58, but we will do everything we can to mitigate job losses," he said.

Mr Sellers said job losses were inevitable even if MMD won new contracts.

He said the fresh produce industry was moving from pallets to containers, which could be handled by fewer port staff.

'Major contracts'

Mr Sellers added the company, which has 230 employees, had a "duty of care" to consult with workers before any final decisions.

A consultation has been extended from 30 to 45 days.

"We will still be the number one facility in the UK for fruit imports," he added.

The union Unison said the announcement was "absolutely devastating" for its MMD members and "a body blow for the city of Portsmouth".

Regional organiser James Smith said workers were facing "considerable hardship" either through redundancy or reduced hours.

The union said initial talks since the announcement had been "constructive".

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