As rising coronavirus infection levels threaten vital supply chains, the British Ports Association (BPA) has called for essential port workers to be given priority during the rollout of the vaccine.
The UK ports industry is the second largest in Europe, handling almost 500 million tonnes of freight each year and facilitating 95% of the UK’s trade. Over 115 000 people are directly employed in the industry.
“As half of the UK’s food is imported, it is critical that ports can remain open and their workforce remains resilient so that shops, public services and businesses are supplied with what the country needs,” says BPA head of corporate services Sara Walsh.
The UK Department for Transport has already designated logistics workers as ‘essential workers’ to enable them to travel for work.
“We understand the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation and different parts of government are currently considering what sectors or particular roles or workers should be prioritised for the Covid-19 vaccine, and we understand the need to vaccinate health professionals and those who are medically vulnerable.
“However we are talking about the unsung heroes who keep the country supplied. From marine pilots to cutter crew, crane and plant operators, vessel traffic service operators, tug operators, quayside operators, stevedores and linesmen. There are a number of “pinch point” roles within the ports sector that are essential to ensuring trade continues to flow and the wider supply chain remains resilient.”