Emergency services unaffected

Up to 700 members of the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) working for the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) began a campaign of industrial action today in a dispute over low pay.

According to one website, 81% of members voted in a recent ballot to take action over a below-inflation cost-of-living increase, although this figure was disputed by the MCA.

The pay increase in question averages just 2.5% for many and penalises the most experienced staff with pay increases of less than 1%.

The action will see members withdrawing from non-essential duties such as:

* Issuing of fishing vessel certificates.
* MCA information line, hitting out of hours information given to
the public and shipping companies.
* Production of end of month returns and incident reports, hitting
the information and statistics made available for ministers.
* Processing of seafarer documents.

However, the MCA told PBO that the industrial action would not compromise safety. ‘The Coastguard will be fulfilling its SAR and emergency responsibilities as usual.’