U.K. coastguard workers agree to strike
The United Kingdom’s Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA) is facing its first ever strike after staff agreed to a 24-hour walkout over wages.
Up to 700 members of the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) will take part in a one-day strike on March 6. The union said 80 percent of members voted in favor of strike action on a turnout of 69 percent.
“This unprecedented vote and move to strike action illustrates the depth of anger amongst staff who provide a vital emergency service,” said Mark Serwotka, the PCS general secretary.
“This is not a step which our coastguard members have taken lightly. The government’s policy of holding down public sector pay increases below the level of inflation is creating disputes across the civil and public services. In MCA pay levels are so low that Watch Assistants have needed a special pay rise to bring them up to the level of the national minimum wage.
“Coastguards are the forgotten emergency service and the government need to act quickly in paying them a fair wage that is comparable to other emergency services.”
Peter Cardy, chief executive of the MCA, said: “I am very saddened by this result and the planned strike. I had hoped this strike could be avoided by our engagement with the Trades Unions. I have made it very clear to them that I want to keep talking about a longer-term pay settlement to this dispute. I am unable to discuss such a long-term agreement until the strike action ceases. Safety at sea is the MCA’s key priority and by our contingency plans which are now in place I can reassure the public that an emergency response for those at risk will not be compromised by industrial action.”