Kent

Dover port workers protest at privatisation plans

Port of Dover
Image caption The Port of Dover is thought to be worth about £300m

Members of Britain's largest union have been taking part in a rally in Dover to reiterate their opposition to proposals to privatise the port.

Unite, which represents workers there, took part in an international day of action demanding standardised EU-wide conditions for employees.

It argues running Dover for profit would be a disaster.

But the independent trust operating the port says privatisation would enable it to invest in its future.

It says its status prevents it borrowing the money needed to finance significant additional capacity, which it argues is essential for the future health of the port, which is responsible - directly and indirectly - for about 20,000 jobs and around £80bn of trade a year.

'National treasure'

The port's estimated value is about £300m.

But Unison is desperate for Dover to remain in public hands, arguing there is "too much at stake" to entrust its running to private enterprise, which it fears would "milk this national treasure for profits at the expense of the travelling public and British commerce".

The rally, aimed at reinforcing its opposition to privatisation, involved a march by a few protesters from the town's Bluebirds restaurant to Marine Parade.

After an initial public consultation, the coalition government ordered a second - with more information on the likely impact of the plans - which ended in August.

The government's ruling is expected later this year.

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