Highlands & Islands

Marine Scotland's Unite union members to be balloted

Members of the Unite union working for Scotland's fisheries protection fleet are to be balloted in a pay dispute.

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

Unite said a chief steward can earn up £29,000-a-year at Marine Scotland but £37,000 at Caledonian MacBrayne.

Marine Scotland, a directorate of the Scottish government, said it was committed to a fair pay policy.

The dispute also involves supplementary recruitment and retention payments.

Unite regional officer Alexander Smart said: "Our members at Marine Scotland do a difficult job on behalf of all of us.

"They are often away from home for long periods of time, protecting Scotland's seas and fisheries.

"They deserve fair pay."

Mr Smart said that with help from Labour MSP Rhoda Grant the matter has been raised directly with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

A Marine Scotland spokesperson said: "We are committed to a pay policy that is fair for all.

"Temporary and supplementary payments are reviewed on a regular basis to ensure staff recruitment and retention, while delivering value for money for Scotland's taxpayers.

"The Scottish government is currently carrying out a comparative pay analysis of seafarers salaries and, at a meeting in February, Marine Scotland agreed to review any supporting information which the trade unions had in support of retaining the pay supplement for a longer period. That commitment remains in place.

"Marine Scotland management is still actively considering the case for the continued payment of a recruitment and retention supplement."

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