Plymouth tugboat crew strike continues

Devonport naval base faces more disruption as tugboat crew to strike again for 24 hours in rostering row

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Another 24 hour strike is to be held by Plymouth tugboat crews in the continuing rostering dispute, which will again cause serious disruption to naval traffic in the docks, Unite warned today (April 19).

About 40 tractor tug crew members employed by Serco Marine at Devonport’s naval base will strike from 7am on Monday, April 26 until 7am on Tuesday, April 27.

This follows on from the first 24 hour strike (April 9/10) in the long-running dispute over the imposition of a new three weeks ‘on’ and three weeks ‘off’ roster.

Unite has repeatedly said that there were serious health & safety risks for its members, including excessive tiredness, with the new three week system introduced in December. It also has adverse implications for their annual leave entitlement.

The strike will again cause serious disruption to naval vessels, including submarines, which need the tugs to get into the docks and out again into open sea.

Unite national officer Bobby Morton said, “Our members showed great courage in standing up to the management when they first took strike action earlier this month in the long-running dispute which has health & safety at its heart.

“They will be striking again for 24 hours next week as the new roster system of three weeks ‘on’ and then weeks ‘off’ has meant increased fatigue for our members who do a very responsible and essential job,” he added.

“There is now a window of opportunity before the next strike action for the management to enter into constructive talks with Unite where the health & safety of our members are paramount – and not the larger profit margins for Serco.

“The previous one week ‘on’ and one week ‘off’ pattern worked well for many years and should be reinstated,” Morton continued.

“The latest strike will cause further disruption to naval vessels which need the experienced tugboat crews to guide them into the docks and back out to sea once maintenance work and re-provisioning for the ships are completed.”

The dispute has been simmering since last year and talks under the auspices of the conciliation service, Acas reached an impasse which has led to the two bouts of industrial action this month.

By Shaun Noble

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