Devonport naval base faces 96 hours of disruption next week when tugboat crews strike in the continuing rostering dispute, Unite the union said today (Wednesday 5 May).

About 40 tractor tug crew members employed by Serco Marine at the naval base will strike from 07:00 on Saturday 15 May until 06:59 on Wednesday 19 May. This follows two well-supported 24 hour strikes last month.

The long-running dispute centres on the imposition of a new three weeks ‘on’ and three weeks ‘off’ roster introduced in December, which Unite has repeatedly warned poses serious health & safety risks for its members, including excessive tiredness. It also has adverse implications for their annual leave entitlement.

Unite members are currently being balloted to extend the mandate which will ensure that they will be covered by the full 12 week period of immunity from being dismissed for taking part in lawful industrial action, which will now cover all action until early July. The ballot closes on Wednesday 19 May.

Unite national officer Bobby Morton said: “The 96 hour strike is a shot across the management’s bows that now is the time for them to sit down for constructive talks to resolve this dispute, otherwise Devonport could face serious disruption with strike action until early July.

“A wave of strikes into mid-summer could disrupt naval vessels, including submarines, from entering Devonport for maintenance and re-supply and then being guided back to open sea, as our members are essential for the smooth running of that operation.

“The new roster system of three weeks ‘on’ and then three weeks ‘off’ has meant increased fatigue for our members who do a very responsible and essential job. The previous one week ‘on’ and one week ‘off’ pattern worked well for many years and should be reinstated.”

The dispute started last year and talks under the auspices of the conciliation service, Acas 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.

Please note the numbers above are for journalists’ enquiries only.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @unitetheunion Facebook: unitetheunion1 Web: 

Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest union with members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.