Sea vessels moored as workers down tools in pay dispute 

Unite the union confirmed that its Northern Lighthouse Board (NLB) members are set to take 24-hour strike action on Monday (26 June) in a long-running dispute over pay.

Around 40 Unite members including able seamen, base assistants, cooks and technicians will take 24-hour strike action beginning at noon on 26 June until noon on 27 June. 

The workers maintain and operate Scotland’s lighthouses, beacons and buoys at sea ensuring that vessels and ships have safe passage through Scottish waters.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Unite’s NLB members have been left with no option but to take a stand. What’s on offer is a brutal real terms pay cut. With energy costs, inflation and interest rates climbing to heights not seen for decades, a 2 per cent offer just doesn’t cut it. 

We will continue to push the boat out in defence of our members, and they will have our full support in their fight for better jobs, pay and conditions.” 

The NLB’s mainland operations are based at its Edinburgh HQ, and in Oban where there are maintenance workshops and facilities for the construction of beacons and buoys. NLB technicians are also based in Inverness, Shetland and Orkney. 

The NLB’s has two vessels based in Oban: NLV PHAROS and NLV POLE STAR. Both vessels will be docked at Oban and picket lines will be in place on both days of the action (26 and 27 June) at the Gallanach Road base.

In April, Unite disclosed that its NLB members voted to support taking strike action by 90.6 per cent in a turnout of 86.5 per cent. Unite members have rejected a 2 per cent pay offer and one-off cash payments as unacceptable. The NLB offer is below the pay offers made to other public sector organisations and follows a pay freeze last year. 

The broader cost of living (RPI) has hit 11.3 per cent while the base interest rate has climbed to 5 per cent.

Unite industrial officer, Alison MacLean, added: “The strike action by our NLB members is historic and the first in a generation. The reality is that talks with the NLB have run aground. This is largely down to the UK Government, who finance the NLB, not providing the extra finances required to make a better offer to our members. 

We are demanding that the Scottish Government intervene and apply pressure on the UK Government to resolve this dispute or it is in danger of remaining in troubled waters. “ 

The NLB maintains 208 lighthouses across Scotland and the Isle of Man. The lighthouses are situated in some of the most remote and beautiful locations in Scotland, and guided sea mariners for over two centuries.


Notes to editors:

The NLB is funded from Light Dues, a tax collected from the users of the body’s Aids to Navigation. An annual process takes place to agree a 5-year plan which is scrutinised and approved by both the UK Department for Transport and the Lights Advisory Committee - who represent those who pay Light Dues.