Devonport naval base faces disruption as tugboat crew strike for two days in rostering row
- Tuesday 6 April 2021
Two days of strike action this week by Plymouth tugboat crews in a rostering dispute will cause serious disruption to naval traffic in the docks, Unite the union warned today (Tuesday 6 April).
About 40 tractor tug crew members employed by Serco Marine at Devonport’s naval base will strike from 07.00 on Friday (9 April) until 06.59 on Saturday (10 April) in the long-running dispute over the imposition of a new three weeks ‘on’ and three weeks ‘off’ roster.
Unite 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 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: “This is a long-running dispute which has health & safety at its heart. The new roster system of three weeks ‘on’ and then weeks ‘off’ has meant increased fatigue for our members who do a very responsible job.
“The new system may suit the Serco management as a way for the outsourcing giant to increase its profit margins, but it is completely unacceptable to our members.
“The previous one week ‘on’ and one week ‘off’ pattern worked well for many years and should be reinstated – and we call on the management to take this step before this week’s strike.
“The strike will cause 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 strikes were planned for the Christmas and New Year period, but Unite suspended them as an act of goodwill for talks under the auspices of the conciliation service, Acas to take place. However, these have now reached an impasse.
Notes to editors:
For more information please contact Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble on 020 3371 2060 or 07768 693940. Unite press office is on: 020 3371 2065.
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Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest union with members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.