Avoid airports – but sailing stays safe, says MCA

The 24-hour industrial action by up to 600,000 teachers and civil servants, called by leading unions for tomorrow (Thursday 30 June) over planned pension changes, is not expected to greatly impact the leisure sailing sector.

A spokesperson for the Maritime and Coastguard Agency told PBO that contingency plans are in place to safeguard the public, and with volunteers and helicopters not involved in the dispute, the safety of water users should not be jeopardised by the strike action.

Until midnight tonight, when the strike begins, the MCA will not know how many staff are to be involved. While full-time staff may be affected, depending on whether they are a member of one of the unions involved, they are not obliged to give the Agency advance notice of their intent.

However, with night watches for Coastguards starting at 7pm this evening and the industrial action beginning at midnight, it is generally believed that conscientious watch officers are unlikely to down tools mid-watch.

Outside the MCA, the Royal National Lifeboat Institution has pointed out that, as an independent charity unaffiliated to the government or civil servants, none of their staff or volunteers will be involved in the action and all their services will remain unchanged.

Regarding travel, the UK Border Agency declined to comment on potential effects to individual sectors, however the view from the RYA was that British and EU leisure sailors would not notice much difference to their normal port procedures.

The greatest impact will, no doubt, be felt by those taking charter holidays abroad, as airports struggle to cope with reduced staff. Advice has already been broadcast to avoid air travel and ferry ports tomorrow if at all possible.

UPDATE – 10am Thurs 30 June: Passengers leaving UK ports and airports are said to be largely unaffected by today’s industrial action as they only encounter security staff, who are not members of the unions involved. Returning passengers experience the most disruption although major airports report that delays so far are ‘not excessive’.

Photo: MCA