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Union's shot across the bows for lighthouse authority

PUBLISHED: 18:44 29 March 2019 | UPDATED: 18:44 29 March 2019

Trinity house at the Quay in Harwich  Picture: GOOGLE MAPS

Trinity house at the Quay in Harwich Picture: GOOGLE MAPS

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Trinity House seamen in Essex will join the first pay strike by staff working for the lighthouse authority, in more than 500 years of its history.

Trinity House ships Galatea and Patricia at HarwichTrinity House ships Galatea and Patricia at Harwich

The seafarers, who are members of Unite, have a key role in maintaining safety in British waters.

Unite says they are taking strike action on April 3 after seven years of below inflation pay rises, or no increases at all.

Unite has 34 members working on three lighthouse tenders - Galatea and Alert based in Harwich, and the Patricia whose home port is Swansea, south Wales.

Its 20 members at Harwich will walk out for 24 hours from 2pm on Wednesday in a move the union described as “a shot across the bows” of the management at Trinity House Lighthouse Services (Corporation of Trinity House Deptford Strond).

Talks on Thursday between Unite and the management, under the auspices of the conciliation service Acas, failed to reach agreement.

Unite’s members voted by 90% for strike action.

A spokesman for Trinity House said they were aware of the strike action over pay.

He said: “All our staff are highly valued, but Trinity House salaries are subject to public sector pay policy, and all staff have been awarded the maximum possible within the Civil Service rules.

“Regular meetings have taken place with the union and Trinity House remains open to consider any proposals which might be achievable within the rules that we are obliged to follow.

“The 18/19 year has now closed with all staff both ashore and afloat receiving the maximum 1.5% award and we await government guidance for the current year.

“In terms of the shipping sector in particular, Trinity House believes that the package overall needs to be taken into consideration, which includes a strong emphasis on training and a Civil Service pension.

“The strike action is planned to take place over a crew change period when ships would routinely be in port. The union has provided assurances that urgent safety critical work will be unaffected and therefore the ships remain available to respond appropriately to any new risks within our waters.

“The proposed industrial action does not affect the normal operation of Trinity House’s physical or digital aids to navigation.”

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