Port of Felixstowe. Photo: Rodney Harris
Greening the workplace at Port of Felixstowe
The Port of Felixstowe is Britain’s busiest container port and one of the largest in Europe. It handles over 3.4 million containers a year. I’ve worked here for nearly 27 years, and in that time have seen the Port expand, and its development encroach into nearby sites of special scientific interest (SSIs).
As a child I spent much of my time developing my knowledge of ornithology and the natural world around the previously unspoilt areas before the port’s expansion. As a port employee, I made my priority the balance between growing Port employment and safe-guarding the interests of the local ecosystem.
The Port employs 2,580 people, and I represent 1,900 shop-floor dockers, giving our branch around 94% union membership. I’ve been involved in voluntary work (funded by the Port) to help create and develop the nature reserves surrounding the Port, and when I became a Senior Shop Steward, the TUC offered me the chance to attend a three-day course on understanding environmental issues in the workplace. Port of Felixstowe management were happy to release me to further my education and development on the environmental agenda.
I demonstrated at the course how a non-confrontational dialogue can be progressed between the trade union and management through constructive joint working. I also learned the importance of networking with fellow Green Workplace Reps in other industries, and how we can share resources and review existing workplace policy.
At the end of the TUC course the tutor asked us “What will be your objectives when you return to your workplaces?” One of the course attendees pointed to me and said, “I want to do what Kevin is doing!” I found that comment very rewarding.
Having recognised my work so far and enthusiasm for green development, management invited me to sit on the Port Travel Steering Group, promoting the development of sustainable travel to and from work and at-work transport. This has given me an ideal platform to engage the union in helping to promote incentives for our members, such as cycle to work schemes and car sharing.
With the help of TUC tutors Sarah Pearce and John James, we were able to bring a dedicated TUC Greening the Workplace workshop to the Port. This gave us another great opportunity to promote ownership of the issues amongst dock workers as pro-active Green Workplace Champions, making a real difference to Greening the Workplace.