Around 34 seafarers employed by Trinity House Lighthouse Services, Corporation of Trinity House Deptford Strond, who are members of the trade union Unite, are conducting a protest today (Wednesday 24 April 2019) in a dispute over pay.
Today’s industrial action, which is the first union strike since The Corporation of Trinity House was incorporated by Royal Charter in 1514, will take place at 1.00pm at Trinity House at the Quay, Harwich, Essex.
According to Unite, the dispute regards a seven-year period where pay rises have been below inflation or not offered at all.
Unite members who work at Trinity House Lighthouse Services voted 90% in favour of strike action; they have already undertaken a day of industrial action earlier this month.
The striking individuals work across three lighthouse tenders, maintaining almost 11,000 aids to navigation. These include Galatea and Alert based in Harwich, Essex and Patricia, situated in Swansea, south Wales. The seafarers are also currently surveying lighting on North Sea oil rigs.
Miles Hubbard, regional officer at Unite, said: “[The] protest demonstrates the resolve of our members to seek pay justice and not put up with miserly rates of pay that they have endured over the last seven years.
“The seafarers are dedicated professionals firmly committed to safety in the navigation of the sea lanes around the British Isles. However, the fact that they staged the first strike in Trinity House’s 505-year-old history on 3 April underlines their strength of feeling on the pay issue.
“In 2017, the employer imposed a 1% pay increase, which Unite members voted overwhelmingly to reject. Talks, including a pay increase for the year starting April 2018, continued but eventually [ran] aground.
“Unless there is substantial movement by Trinity House management, more industrial action is on the cards during spring and early summer.”
A spokesperson at Trinity House 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 2018-2019 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.”