Orkney Ferries crew could take strike action in pay dispute
CREWMEN working for Orkney Ferries are to be balloted for strike action in a dispute over pay.
The inter island service operates ferries between the Orkney mainland and 13 island destinations.
The RMT union has announced plans to begin a postal ballot of members next week following the breakdown of talks with the ferry company.
Bob Crow, the RMT General Secretary said: “It is outrageous that Orkney Ferries have come up with precisely nothing despite hours and hours of talks and despite the helpful intervention of ACAS. It is that attitude which has left us no option but to now move to a ballot of staff for strike action.
“By standing strong together we can show the company that they must return to the table and make a decent offer which represents a substantial increase in rates of pay and genuine improvements to terms and conditions.”
Steve Todd, the union’s National Secretary, declared: “RMT will not stand back while our members standards of living are driven to poverty levels with this de facto freezing of pay rates well off into the future. The staff on the Orkney Ferries provide an essential transport service and they should be properly rewarded and recognised for the hard job that they do.
“It is down to the company to recognise the anger and resentment that their stance has generated and to agree to get back round the table for meaningful talks aimed at resolving this dispute.”
A union spokesman explained: “A recent referendum ballot overwhelmingly rejected the company’s position that any pay increase must be self-funded. The RMT and the other staff unions involved in the negotiations then decided to seek the services of the conciliatory service ACAS in an effort to resolve the matter prior to commencing a ballot of members for industrial action.
“Discussions between the company and RMT, Nautilus and Unite at ACAS have now concluded but the ultimate company position is that they are not willing to support a general pay increase at this time and any increase must be funded by efficiency savings in other costs of employment.
“RMT has made it clear that the position remains completely unacceptable and as a result of the breakdown of the ACAS talks Orkney Ferries have been informed that a dispute situation exists due to the failure to table a suitable pay offer.”
Crews working for Serco Northlink Ferries on the service between the Scottish mainland and Orkney and Shetland are also being balloted for strike action in a dispute over plans to axe up to 36 jobs.
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