Dock workers at the UK’s largest container port have gone on strike for the first time in 30 years.

About 1,900 members of the Unite union at Felixstowe in Suffolk are walking out for eight days in a dispute over pay.

Unite said members rejected a 7% pay offer from the Felixstowe Dock and Railway Company; a percentage reported to be below the rate of inflation.

A picket line formed early on Sunday as the strike began and the union said it would be manned until 10pm on each day of the walkout. 

Miles Hubbard, from Unite’s regional office, told BBC, “Very few people reported for work this morning.

“The picket line has been in place since 6am and we’re getting great support from the public.”

Port spokesman Paul Davey said the average pay for workers at Felixstowe was £43,000, and employees had been offered a 7% rise, plus a single payment of £500.

He said the offer represented an increase of between 8.1% and 9.6%, depending upon the category of worker at the port, at a time when the average pay increase in the country was 5%.

About 2,550 people work at the Port of Felixstowe––the country’s busiest port, handling about 48% of the UK’s container trade. Striking workers include crane drivers, machine operators and stevedores who load and unload ships.