Unite the union today (23 February) confirmed that its members working at the Lerwick Port Authority are taking part in an industrial action ballot over pay, terms and conditions. 

The workers included within the ballot at the main port in the Shetland Islands have already unanimously backed industrial action in a consultative ballot.

Strike action by the workers, who include engineers, electricians, joiners and General Operatives, will severely disrupt shipping at the harbour which will include cruise liners, and oil and gas vessels, as well as general shipping.

Unite members are challenging a number of detrimental changes to basic pay, overtime, standby and call-out payments, plus pension contributions, which will further cut incomes for workers who already derive 40p in every pound of their pay from overtime payments.

Unite is demanding that the port workers be brought into line with industry standards set by National Agreement for the Engineering Construction Industry Projects (NAECI) and the Scottish Joint Industry Board (SJIB).

According to the Port Authority its turnover increased to £11.65m in 2019 up from £10.90m in 2018. Profit after-tax for 2019 also increased to £2.97m from £1.78m in the previous year. Lerwick also received the 2021 Port of the Year Award and recently benefited from a £30m upgrade scheme.

The ballot on industrial action is set to close on 9 March. If the ballot is successful then the Port Authority could face strike action, and an overtime from the end of March onwards.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Lerwick Port Authority has held down wages too long and this workforce is not standing for it any longer with their union’s full support.  It is time to pay them the rate for the job.

“This business is doing very well financially so there are no grounds whatsoever for undermining our members’ pay and pensions.  The employer should return to the table with a more sensible and respectful offer. Unite will always fiercely defend the jobs, terms and conditions of our members.”

John Clark, Unite industrial officer added: “Unite’s aim is to bring this group of workers within current national agreements which are set by industry-wide bodies.

“Talks are continuing and we hope that the discussions can prevent any dispute. But, if there is no breakthrough, the Lerwick Port Authority management will be left in no doubt that our members will fight to win a fair pay deal and to reverse a number of detrimental changes made to their contracts.”


Notes to Editor

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