Page last updated at 19:53 GMT, Tuesday, 1 April 2008 20:53 UK

Fear over more coastguard strikes

Picket line of striking MCA staff
MCA staff held their first ever strike over pay last month

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) has put in place contingency plans over fears staff will hold two further one-day strikes over pay.

Walkouts are predicted to take place on 11 and 24 April following the agency's first ever strike by its control centre staff last month.

The MCA said strikes may put lives at risk as the yachting season begins.

The Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) said an announcement on any action will be made on Friday.

On 6 March, up to 700 Maritime and Coastguard Agency employees walked out over what staff called "poverty pay".

The PCS said almost half of Britain's 19 rescue centres were closed as managers were drafted in to answer calls and perform other duties.

MCA CONTROL CENTRES
Portland
Solent
Dover
London
Thames
Yarmouth
Humber
Liverpool
Holyhead
Milford Haven
Swansea
Falmouth
Brixham
Belfast
Forth
Clyde
Aberdeen
Stornoway

In a statement about possible further industrial action, the MCA said: "The Maritime & Coastguard Agency is greatly disappointed the strike day has been called for the 11 April.

"Our job is the safety of life at sea and we are disappointed that the Union have chosen the day to cause maximum disruption.

"Union members should also be aware that as we enter the leisure yachting and recreational boating season, they will need to be careful in the action they take of risking the lives and safety of the boating public.

"Contingency plans are now being drawn up by senior managers to lessen the risks, but the MCA remain very concerned by this unnecessary and potentially life-threatening action and would encourage the unions to return to the negotiating table at the very earliest opportunity."

The union wants coastguards to receive another 3,000 on top of their current base pay of 14,000 a year.

But the MCA has said it is bound by government rules on public sector pay.




video and audio news
One coastguard explains why she is on the picket line



SEE ALSO
Coastguard staff back pay strike
27 Feb 08 |  England

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