Strike Action by Northern Lighthouse Board (NLB) Workers

Roseness lighthouse
Image credit Bell

Unite the union confirmed that its Northern Lighthouse Board (NLB) members will resume 24-hour strike action in a long-running dispute over pay.

Around 40 Unite members including able seamen, base assistants, cooks and technicians will take 24-hour strike action beginning at noon today, Thursday 27 July. The action ends the following day at noon. The latest strike action follows a previous 24-hour stoppage over 26 to 27 June. 

The workers maintain and operate Scotland’s lighthouses, beacons and buoys at sea ensuring that vessels and ships have safe passage through Scottish waters.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said:

 “Unite’s NLB members will take part in a second wave of strike action. At the heart of this dispute is an unacceptable 2 per cent pay offer which does absolutely nothing to help keep families and households afloat during the worst cost of living crisis in a generation. Unite will continue to push the boat out in defence of our members’ jobs, pay and conditions.” 

The NLB’s mainland operations are based at its Edinburgh HQ, and in Oban where there are maintenance workshops and facilities for the construction of beacons and buoys.

NLB technicians are also based in Inverness, Shetland and Orkney. 

The NLB’s has two vessels based in Oban: NLV PHAROS and NLV POLE STAR. Both vessels will be docked at Oban and picket lines will be in place on both days of the action (27 and 28 July) at the Gallanach Road base.

In April, Unite disclosed that its NLB members voted to support taking strike action by 90.6 per cent in a turnout of 86.5 per cent. Unite members have rejected a 2 per cent pay offer and one-off cash payments as unacceptable. The NLB offer remains below the pay offers made to other public sector organisations and follows a pay freeze last year. 

Unite industrial officer, Alison MacLean, added:

 “Unite’s members at the NLB remain steadfast. They refuse to be pushed overboard to sink under this cost of living crisis. The UK Government must provide the extra finances required to support the NLB. We also repeat our demand that the Scottish Government intervene in the dispute or it will continued to be moored in Scottish waters.”

The NLB maintains 208 lighthouses across Scotland and the Isle of Man. The lighthouses are situated in some of the most remote and beautiful locations in Scotland, and guided sea mariners for over two centuries.

the small lighthouse beacon at the end of the pier in Kirkwall with the ferry and other boats pictured alongside
Image credit Bell

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