Unite has described Tory MP Chris Grayling’s new £100,000 a year part-time job at Hutchinson Ports as a “slap in the face” to company staff who are shouldering pay reductions as a result of coronavirus.
The union has said the move is an “insult” to workers at the company, which runs Harwich and Felixstowe ports, who have had their shifts adjusted and Christmas bonuses cancelled due to the pandemic.
Unite, which has more than 2,000 members working across the port in Felixstowe, also accused Hutchinson Ports of having “money to burn” if it was prepared to spend £100,000 on the Epsom and Ewell MP as a part-time adviser.
According to the MPs’ register of financial interests, the new role secured by the former Shadow Transport Secretary will see him receive a six-figure annual pay cheque for only around seven hours of work a week.
Unite regional officer Miles Hubbard said: “Mr Grayling’s appointment by Hutchinson Ports is a slap in the face to its Felixstowe workforce. While still serving as an MP, Mr Grayling will pocket nearly £2,000 a week for just seven hours of work.
“For Felixstowe port’s hourly paid staff, who have lost their annual Christmas bonus and undergone detrimental shift changes to help the company get through the pandemic, Mr Grayling’s cushy number at the port is an insult.
“Hutchinson Ports clearly has money to burn if it can afford to spend £100,000 on a part-time advisor who once gave a multimillion-pound shipping contract to a company with no ships and who was dubbed ‘the worst Transport Secretary of all time’.”
Grayling has been offered the role despite having a controversial record as a Tory MP and cabinet member. Notable incidents include offering a £13.8m channel ferry contract to a company that did not own a single ferry.
Labour has claimed that Grayling’s long-history of gaffes during his time as a cabinet minister has wasted a total of £2.7bn of taxpayers’ money, which led Andy McDonald to remark last year that “the Tories seem obsessed with rewarding incompetence”.
£2bn of the wasted spending was due to the collapse of the Virgin Trains east coast franchise in 2018 and the decision taken to nationalise the route. A further £437m was attributed to his failed privatisation of the prison probation service.