Members of Unite the union working for Scotland’s fisheries protection fleet are to ballot in an ongoing battle over pay.
The workers at Marine Scotland are angry that they are being paid less than other seafarers working for the Scottish Government.
Parliamentary Questions by Labour Highlands & Islands MSP Rhoda Grant have discovered that seagoing staff at Marine Scotland are being paid thousands of pounds less than those in comparable posts for ferry operator Caledonian MacBrayne.
A chief steward for Marine Scotland can earn up to £29,579 a year while at CalMac the same post is rewarded with £37,675.
Both Marine Scotland and CalMac are wholly owned by Scottish Ministers.
In December the Scottish Parliament passed an amendment put forward by Scottish Labour, stating that Marine Scotland staff should receive a fair pay settlement that recognises their experience and skills.
Unite regional officer Alexander Smart said: “Not only are Marine Scotland denying fair pay to our members – they’re defying the will of Parliament to do it.
“Our members at Marine Scotland do a difficult job on behalf of all of us. They are often away from home for long periods of time, protecting Scotland’s seas and fisheries.
“They deserve fair pay. We have tried negotiation and with the help of Rhoda Grant we have been pushing for action from the Scottish Government and have raised the issue directly with the First Minister.
"Nothing has worked and we have no choice but to start a consultative ballot.
“We are urging all our members at Marine Scotland to stand together now, and show their determination to get the fair pay they deserve.”
The consultative ballot is open now and will run until Thursday 13 April.
Members are being asked if they would be prepared to support industrial action.
Rhoda Grant MSP said:
“I am really sorry that it has come to this.
"I have spent time pressing Marine Scotland in person and in writing about fair pay for seafarers.
"The Scottish Parliament has backed fair pay for seafarers and we have had no movement at all on this issue.
"I sincerely hope that Marine Scotland and the Scottish Government will find a resolution to this before seafarers have to resort to industrial action.”