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Relief crews could cut tug costs

SHETLAND Islands Council is pushing ahead with a register of relief and temporary staff to help man the tugs at the oil port of Sella Ness.

The proposal has been met with reservation from union members, but is now to be implemented as part of a review to cut back on expensive overtime.

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The council and the union must now reach an agreement over the details of induction courses for relief staff before the council makes a final decision at its meeting on 15 September.

A union spokesman said that they were not against the principle of cutting back on overtime, but questions remained over the induction process and the number of temporary crew on board the tugs at any one time.

The introduction of a “pool of a skilled workforce” would save the department an unspecified amount of money.

In the past, absence of tug staff due to illness or training was covered by overtime.

Board members were in favour of the proposal. Councillor Betty Fullerton said: “We need to find cheaper ways of providing the same service.”

The new database will be promoted throughout the isles in the hope of attracting sufficient numbers of qualified mariners interested to do relief work on the tugs.

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