Unite the union is warning that Scotland’s seas could be left wide open to illegal
fishing, after members at Marine Scotland voted in favour of industrial action in
a dispute over fair pay.
Fishery cruiser seafarers want pay equality with Cal Mac personnel which are wholly
owned by the Scottish Government.
Marine Scotland operates Marine Protection Vessels and research ships to protect
the seas and fisheries around the country.
Unite regional officer, Alexander Smart, said: “Our members at Marine Scotland do
a difficult job, safeguarding our seas on behalf of all of us – and often spending
long periods of time away from home. It is completely unfair that they are being
paid less than other seafarers in the public sector.
“They want fair pay now. If they don’t get it, then industrial action is a real possibility.
That would leave Scotland’s seas unprotected, with no checks on fishing vessels to
make sure they are respecting quotas and net sizes.
“It would also mean that two science vessels would be tied up at dock – unable to
carry out research that is used by the Scottish Government, the UK Government, and
the European Union. That’s vital when it comes to setting fishing quotas.
“Our members want to avoid that situation – but unless there is movement from Marine
Scotland and the Scottish Government to deliver fair pay, they will take action.”
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.
Marine Scotland said it is committed to a pay policy that is “fair for all.”
A spokesperson said: “Temporary and supplementary payments are reviewed on a regular
basis to ensure staff recruitment and retention, while delivering value for money
for Scotland’s taxpayers.
“Annual pay discussions between the Scottish Government and the trade unions have
recently started and the parties have agreed to carry out a comparison exercise against
other seafarer employers terms and conditions as part of those discussions.
He added: “In addition, Marine Scotland management agreed last month to continue
payment of the current pay supplement until October in order to continue to assess
recruitment and retention issues in the sector and to allow the trade unions time
to submit their own evidence for the longer term retention of the pay supplement
Labour Highlands and Islands MSP, Rhoda Grant, said: “I have spent time a lot of
time pressing Marine Scotland in person and in writing about fair pay for seafarers.
The Scottish Parliament has backed fair pay for Marine Scotland workers, but we still
have had no movement. That is completely unacceptable - and I sincerely hope that
Marine Scotland and the Scottish Government will find a resolution to this before
seafarers have to resort to industrial action.”