Campaigners against threatened closure of coastguard stations accuse government minister of ‘dodging obligations’ after he abruptly cancelled a meeting


Campaigners against the threatened closure of half of the UK’s coastguard stations have accused a government minister of ducking his obligations after he abruptly cancelled a meeting to discuss their concerns.

Coastguard workers across the service are in the middle of a series of walkouts to try to prevent the closure programme going ahead and PCS says this is the third time in recent months that transport minister Mike Penning has called off a meeting with reps.

One-hour walkouts by staff from the UK’s 19 coastguard stations have been taking place since last Friday, with the final strike this afternoon and tomorrow (15th June).

Staff at the Maritime and Coastguard Agency headquarters in Southampton are joining colleagues from the main Department for Transport head office in a three-hour walkout from 2pm today.

Driving examiners will hold a second two-hour walkout tomorrow.

The strikes are part of a month-long rolling programme of industrial action by the union’s 8,000 members in the DfT over a range of issues including cuts to jobs and offices and privatisation.

Officials say it is part of an ongoing national campaign by the union against cuts to pensions, jobs and pay, which included a strike across the civil service, health and education sectors on 10th May (pictured).

The union has been trying to secure a meeting with Mike Penning to talk about concerns over the safety of plans to close nine coastguard stations and cut 140 jobs.

It says every time a date has been set it has been cancelled by the minister at the last minute.

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: “People who live in coastal communities and seafarers know what a vital service our coastguard stations provide and we share their grave concerns, so it is a disgrace that the minister appears to think he can brush us aside in this way.

“We will not be silenced, we will continue to campaign and take action against these plans which are nothing more than a dangerous gamble with people’s lives.”

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