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Orkney Ferries officers vote for industrial action

Orkney Ferries could face service disruption.

Members of the maritime union Nautilus International have voted by a massive majority in favour of taking industrial action in the latest stage of a long-running pay dispute with Orkney Ferries.

A ballot of members serving with the company showed 21 voting for taking industrial action short of a strike, with just one member against.

Nautilus says it has informed Orkney Ferries of the result and has indicated its willingness to meet management for further discussions on the issues.

National ferry organiser Micky Smyth commented: “The ballot results are very clear and reflect the long-running frustration of our members about their pay and conditions.

“Independent research conducted in response to those concerns demonstrated that the salaries of our Orkney Ferries members are around 10% below those of other officers carrying out the same duties in comparable ferry companies.

“Our 2017 pay claim – which was submitted whilst we were discussing the results of the study with management – sought an increase over the March RPI inflation rate of 3.2%, as well as a further seven days of annual leave entitlement.

“However, management has failed to move from their position of an offer for a 1.5% increase, which falls far short of our members’ aspirations.”
Mr Smyth added: “We have attempted to resolve this matter amicably, but to no avail so far. We therefore urge the company to think very seriously about the emphatic results of this ballot and to revert with meaningful proposals to address the concerns of our members.”

The news comes just after the RMT union confirmed last month that its members on Orkney Ferries will be taking industrial action in a dispute over pay, beginning this week.

The union’s national executive committee instructed all RMT members at Orkney Ferries to take part in industrial action from Wednesday, January 3. Members were instructed to not work any call-back, not work any overtime, and to work to the job description only.

When asked for a comment on the latest development, an Orkney Islands Council statement said: “The industrial action announced so far by two of the three ferry unions presents a considerable challenge for Orkney Ferries. Although we will make every effort to mitigate the potential impact, there is the risk of service disruption.

“We remain committed to positive dialogue with the unions. But we have made clear we are unable to close the pay gap unless the council receives fair funding from the Scottish Government for Orkney’s internal ferries service, something which the council is continuing to work hard to achieve.”

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