Main port on Shetland Isles could be forced to close after negotiations with Port Authority break down.
- Wednesday 8 June 2022
Unite warns strikes could bring Lerwick harbour to a standstill
Unite the union confirmed today (8 June) that its members working at the Lerwick Port Authority are set to start all-out strike action in a dispute over pay, terms and conditions.
Around a dozen key workers will begin continuous strike action from 00:01 hours on Monday 20 June at the main port in the Shetland Islands. The all-out strike marks an escalation from the current overtime bans, and will bring operations at the port to a 'standstill' impacting cruise liners and oil and gas vessels, as well as the general shipping.
Unite members are demanding that they are paid the same rate as that paid at other UK ports and are in dispute about other proposed detrimental changes to basic pay, overtime and pension contributions.
Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Unite will not allow Lerwick Port Authority to treat these workers as a second class workforce, paying them less than port workers around the UK. The Authority can afford to pay decent rates for the job. We won’t tolerate any further attacks on our members’ pay and conditions. Our members have their union’s full support in this fight to be paid the rate for the job.”
John Clark, Unite industrial officer, added: “Our members are rightly angry and frustrated at the glacial pace of talks with the company. For the first time in many years, they have decided to take all-out strike action along with the ongoing overtime ban which will bring the port to a standstill. There are active discussions with Lerwick Port but so far nothing meaningful has emerged from this. We hope that the imminent strike action will concentrate the minds of management and that they will finally give our members what they deserve.”
For a number of years, despite the prosperity and expansion of the port, skilled and semi-skilled employees have been paid considerably less than nationally agreed rates. Unite is demanding that the port workers be brought into line with industry standards set by National Agreement for the Engineering Construction Industry (NAECI) and the Scottish Joint Industry Board (SJIB).
Turnover at Lerwick Port Authority stands at £9.5 million in 2020. Lerwick received the 2021 Port of the Year Award and recently benefited from a £30m upgrade scheme.
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