Unite the union has today (4 May) said that strikes at Marine Scotland are ‘inevitable’ in the coming weeks unless the Scottish Government makes a significantly improved offer following disappointing talks in Edinburgh this week.

The trade union also confirms that it has received a massive strike mandate from its Marine Scotland members with 90 per cent supporting strike action in a 68 per cent turnout.

Unite, which represents around 80 Marine Scotland workers based at Scotland's fisheries protection fleet, has reacted furiously to a two per cent pay imposition for 2021 by the Scottish Government stating that it could in fact constitute an ‘illegal inducement’. 

An illegal inducement – when an employer imposes a pay award against the wishes of the workforce – breaches collective bargaining arrangements. By doing this, the Scottish Government could be potentially in breach of the law. 

The Scottish Government previously confirmed the imposition of the pay award in January 2022, in effect a substantial real terms pay cut given that the broader measure of living costs has now hit nine per cent. 

Sharon Graham, Unite general secretary, said: “Unite’s members at Marine Scotland are now at the end of their patience. These workers perform vital and life-saving roles but they’re being told to in effect take a pay cut which is completely unacceptable.”

“The Scottish Government has to come back to us with a more realistic offer at talks next week or strike action is inevitable in the coming weeks. Unite has zero hesitation in defending our members’ jobs, terms and conditions at all times.” 

Marine Scotland is responsible for ensuring that fishing fleets comply with the law when catching fish.  By preventing overfishing or the wrong size of fish catch, the workforce helps to ensure that fish stocks in Scotland’s seas are sustainable.

Unite’s members undertake active seafaring roles including engineers, cooks, petty officers, merchant officers, mate and deck hands.

Sandy Smart, Unite industrial officer, added: “Unite has attempted to make progress in pay negotiations with the Scottish Government this week but we have hit a brick wall. Further talks are scheduled for next week but we have little hope the Scottish Government will make an offer which meets the aspirations of our members." 

ENDS

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Unite Scotland is the country’s biggest and most diverse trade union with around 150,000 members. The union is led in Scotland by Pat Rafferty.