Marine Scotland's Unite union members to strike

MPV Minna
Image caption Marine Scotland operates five vessels which carry out protection and research work

Members of the Unite union working for Scotland's fisheries protection fleet are set to walk out in a series of strikes in a dispute over pay.

Marine Scotland staff have complained of being paid less than those in comparable jobs in other publicly-owned organisations.

Unite said it was disappointed the situation had reached this stage.

The Scottish government said talks aimed at averting the strikes were continuing.

Unite has said a chief steward can earn up £29,579-a-year at Marine Scotland but £37,675 at ferry operator Caledonian MacBrayne, which is also owned by the Scottish government.

Last December, the Scottish Parliament passed a motion put forward by Scottish Labour, stating that Marine Scotland staff should receive a fair pay settlement that recognises their experience and skills.

'Last resort'

Unite regional officer Sandy Smart said: "Our members do a difficult and dangerous job ensuring that the fishing grounds around Scotland are protected. We are very disappointed that things have got to this stage despite the Scottish Parliament passing a motion to support a fair pay award.

"The first minister also pledged to look at this issue yet our members have been rewarded with a pay cut. Industrial action is always a last resort and even at this late stage we hope that we can reach a solution but this requires movement by Marine Scotland and the Scottish government to properly award the seafarers.

Marine Scotland vessels carry out protection and research work in the seas and fisheries around the country.

There are five vessels in total and five sets of two-day strike action are scheduled to take place on 10, 11, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 25 and 26 August.

A Scottish government spokesman said: "We wish to avert industrial action and will continue our discussions with Unite. It would be inappropriate to comment further while these discussions are under way."

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