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Marine / Potential strike action at port is ‘extremely disappointing’, LPA chief says

The Unite union says a dozen workers are ready to strike from 20 June

Photo: John Coutts for Lerwick Port Authority

FULL strike action is looming at Lerwick Port Authority, according to the Unite union.

It says around a dozen of its members are ready to strike in a dispute over pay, terms and conditions from Monday 20 June.

But Lerwick Port Authority chief executive Calum Grains said the development was “extremely disappointing” as a proposal is with Unite and a meeting is confirmed for next week.

The strike is an escalation from the current overtime bans, and the union claims the action from key shore staff will bring operations at the port to a “standstill” impacting cruise liners and oil and gas vessels, as well as the general shipping.

Unite members are demanding that they are paid the same rate as that paid at other UK ports and are in dispute about “other proposed detrimental changes to basic pay, overtime and pension contributions”.

Talks are still ongoing with the port and there is a hope from the union that the threat of a strike will secure a positive outcome.

Grains said the port remains “committed to finding a resolution with our staff”.

“With contingency measures in place, we continue to make every effort to minimise any effect on our customers,” he said.

Speaking on Wednesday, Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Unite will not allow Lerwick Port Authority to treat these workers as a second class workforce, paying them less than port workers around the UK. The Authority can afford to pay decent rates for the job. We won’t tolerate any further attacks on our members’ pay and conditions.

“Our members have their union’s full support in this fight to be paid the rate for the job.”

John Clark, Unite industrial officer, added: “Our members are rightly angry and frustrated at the glacial pace of talks with the company.

“For the first time in many years, they have decided to take all-out strike action along with the ongoing overtime ban which will bring the port to a standstill. There are active discussions with Lerwick Port but so far nothing meaningful has emerged from this.

“We hope that the imminent strike action will concentrate the minds of management and that they will finally give our members what they deserve.”