Industrial action by PCS union members will affect CG staffing levels but not emergency response

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) has reminded boat users to look very carefully at their plans and precautions in advance of industrial action by the Public and Commercial Services Union.

The Union is protesting over what it claims were sub-inflation pay offers imposed upon its members in 2007, after which an overwhelming majority of PCS members at the Agency voted to take industrial action.

The action will affect Coastguard Stations around the UK this weekend (18-20 July).

Contingency arrangements are in place to ensure that the MCA will continue to provide an emergency service to all beach, cliff and sea users this weekend. However, the boating public should make sure they are aware of standard safety advice before considering going afloat this weekend.

MCA Chief Executive, Peter Cardy, said

This weekend HM Coastguards normal service will be affected by industrial action. Plans are in place to provide cover, but I’m encouraging everybody working or playing on the sea or on the beach this weekend to take that bit of extra care, and to follow our safety advice.

The Agency is absolutely committed to maintaining the safety of life at sea, despite the on-going industrial action, and to aid seafarers we have introduced electronic versions of the marine safety information broadcasts and NAVTEX on the front page of our web site at

We have drawn up detailed contingency plans for the weekend and although our services will be more limited than usual, distress calls will be answered as normal.

Sea users should also be aware that this industrial action is by those responsible for co-ordinating rescues. The rescuers themselves will continue to operate as normal. The following services remain unaffected:

? Helicopters will continue to fly
? The RNLI will still send out their lifeboats
? MCA volunteer Coastguard Rescue Officers are ready in their local communities
? As usual when out at sea, other ships and craft will assist others in distress
? Our emergency tugs and pollution control experts will respond to any shipping incidents that threaten the environment

Peter Cardy continued

We are also asking sea users to not only watch out for themselves, but for others too as they would normally. The message is still the same – if you see something that you believe is dangerous or putting peoples lives at risk, dont delay. Use the distress VHF Channel 16, or if near a shoreline, dial 999 and ask for the Coastguard making sure you know your own position.

Boat users are reminded that

? A suitable up to date marine weather forecast should be obtained before putting to sea

? Forecasts can be obtained from or

? Skippers should make sure that everyone on board is wearing lifejackets

? Marine Safety Information (MSI) broadcasts are now being carried on the front page of the MCA web site

? A fixed or handheld radio should be taken. Mobile phone coverage at sea is too unpredictable

? Suitable in-date flares should be carried

? Warm clothing should be stowed in the event of a lengthy breakdown

? A torch and spare batteries are essential

? An on-shore contact should be identified and a passage plan worked out in advance to ensure no one is left worrying about potential late arrivals