THURROCK MEP Richard Howitt has backed calls for a trade union to be established at the new London Gateway port.

The superport In the Manorway, Stanford-Le-Hope, will open later this year and employ a 2,500- strong workforce.

However, port owner, Dubai-based DP World, has refused to recognise the union, according to Unite, which claims this could mean a “race to the bottom” in terms of employment conditions.

DP World said it wants to give employees a choice over if and what union they join.

But Mr Howitt does not believe safety of workers should be compromised because of the squabble.

He said: “I back the call for proper trade union recognition at the new Thames Gateway port.

“The unions are recognised at other deep water container ports, including Felixstowe/Harwich where health and safety for what can be dangerous work on the docks is paramount.

“The safety and welfare of workers cannot be compromised.”