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Coastguards gear up for strike action

PUBLISHED: 09:56 07 April 2008 | UPDATED: 10:49 03 July 2010

COASTGUARDS will be answering emergency calls only for a period next week in the run-up to a 24-hour strike over pay.

Up to 700 members of the Public and Commercial Services Union at 19 coastguard rescue centres around the country, including Yarmouth, will take emergency calls only for three days from Tuesday morning.

COASTGUARDS will be answering emergency calls only for a period next week in the run-up to a 24-hour strike over pay.

Up to 700 members of the Public and Commercial Services Union at 19 coastguard rescue centres around the country, including Yarmouth, will take emergency calls only for three days from Tuesday morning.

They will then start a 24-hour strike at 7am on Friday. There will be a further 24-hour strike starting at 7pm on April 23, which will coincide with a teachers' strike on April 24.

It follows the first ever coastguard strike on March 6. Staff are upset that their pay levels lag behind those of other emergency services. Coastguard watch assistants, who help with search planning and responses to 999 calls, earn the minimum wage and more experienced staff are paid between £14,000 and £20,000 a year.

Mark Serwotka, union general secretary, said: “The strength of feeling amongst dedicated coastguard staff is self-evident following the strong support for their first strike. It is deeply disappointing that management and the government have refused to talk seriously about resolving the disparities in pay with other emergency service workers and pitiful pay levels that result in coastguard watch assistants receiving a special pay rise because the minimum wage has risen.

“The continued refusal by the government and the agency to value the work of its forgotten emergency service has provoked avoidable strike action and puts lives at risk. The government needs to reassess its policy of capping pay to avoid unnecessary industrial action and start valuing its own workforce with fair and just pay.” The Maritime and Coastguard Agency says it is “greatly disappointed” by the “unnecessary and potentially life-threatening action”.

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