26 September 2017
The long-running dispute over fair pay for Marine Scotland seafarers has been settled with Unite members voting for an enhanced deal.
Highlands and Islands Labour MSP, Rhoda Grant, was delighted that industrial action was averted at the 11th hour but said today the Scottish Government needed to work to achieve parity for all seafarers working for the public purse.
Although union officials agreed the deal in August, averting a planned strike, it took until this month for Unite members to come back backing the settlement. Members of Nautilus International had also voted in favour of action if an acceptable solution was not achieved.
“It is good news indeed that Marine Scotland and the Scottish Government saw sense and offered a deal that seafarers were happy with,” said Mrs Grant.
“However, work needs to be done to make sure all seagoing staff work on equal pay scales, particularly ratings.”
Unite regional officer Alexander Smart said: “We pleased that the dispute is resolved but have asked for further partnership meetings with Marine Scotland management to deal with issues so that they can get resolved earlier and we don’t end up in dispute again.”
The deal increased the Recruitment and Retention Allowance – previously cut from £5,000 to £2,000 – by £1,400, meaning seafarers will now receive £3,400.
Earlier this year Mrs Grant questioned why the Scottish Government was taking so long to settle the dispute.
In December last year the Scottish Parliament passed an amendment put forward by Scottish Labour stating that Marine Scotland staff should receive a fair pay settlement that recognised their experience and skills.
Mrs Grant continued to press for a resolution, saying that seafarers and their families were being put under increased pressure due to a delay in settling the dispute.
Seafarers had discovered they are being paid thousands of pounds less than other workers. A chief steward for Marine Scotland was earning up to £29,579 a year while at CalMac the same post was rewarded with £37,675.
Both Marine Scotland and CalMac are wholly owned by Scottish Ministers. Marine Scotland operates Marine Protection Vessels and research ships to protect the seas and fisheries around the country - leading to them being nicknamed 'Scotland's Navy'.
The Unions argued their members do a difficult job, safeguarding our seas on behalf of all of us – and often spending long periods of time away from home and it is completely unfair that they are being paid less than other seafarers in the public sector.