Marine Scotland seafarers set to strike over pay cut

01 August 2017

Marine Scotland seafarers are set to take industrial action over a series of dates in August. The action follows a collapse in negotiations with the Scottish government who decided to press ahead with an imposed pay cut.

Questions by Rhoda Grant MSP 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 as a result 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.

The first minister pledged to look into the matter yet the Scottish government reversed a previous decision to pay a £5,000 pay supplement to take into account these comparable pay disparities and the difficulty of recruiting staff.

However, this was subsequently cut to £3,000. 

Sandy Smart, regional industrial officer, said:

“Our members do a difficult and dangerous job ensuring that the fishing grounds around Scotland are protected.

"We are very disappointed that things have got to this stage despite the Scottish parliament passing a motion to support a fair pay award.

"The first minister also pledged to look at this issue yet our members have been rewarded with a pay cut.

"Industrial action is always a last resort and even at this late stage we hope that we can reach a solution but this requires movement by Marine Scotland and the Scottish government to properly award the seafarers.”

Rhoda Grant added:

“Given the vote in parliament it is pretty sad that it has come to this.

"Seafarers and Marine Scotland work in difficult and dangerous conditions, protecting our seas, and have been given shoddy treatment by the Scottish government.

"This could and should have been sorted out months ago.

"We are now at the 11th hour and the Scottish government must act now to settle this.” 

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'.

There are five vessels in total and five sets of two-day strike action will occur on the following dates: 10 and 11, 13 and 14, 15 and 16, 17 and 18, 25 and 26 August.