Union says government should scrap “ill-advised and potentially dangerous” plans to close stations
Coastguard staff overwhelmingly believe the government’s latest attempt to cut their jobs and close stations will put the public at risk, the Public and Commercial Services union has said.
In a consultative ballot of the union’s 570 members in the Maritime and Coastguard Service, 86% of respondents said they had no confidence the proposals will protect the public’s safety.
In a further blow to ministers and management, previously criticised by a committee of MPs for their failure to properly consult, 99% said they supported the union’s demand for full and open consultation on the plans, including a discussion about pay.
The ballot comes as the union is putting the finishing touches to its submission to the latest consultation by the MCA over proposals to cut more than 140 jobs and close eight coastguard stations around the UK: Brixham, Swansea, Portland, Liverpool, Clyde, Forth, Yarmouth and Thames.
Public outrage over the government’s first set of plans for cuts led to a partial climbdown. But the union argues the MCA has still failed to make its case and says the new proposals will lead to chronic understaffing and a dangerous loss of local knowledge, and so should be scrapped.
The campaign against closure has won cross-party support, with 113 MPs backing a Commons motion – including former Lib Dem leaders Charles Kennedy and Menzies Campbell and current party president Tim Farron.
First minster of Scotland Alex Salmond has also described plans for Clyde as “ill-advised and potentially dangerous”.
Coastguard staff are among the lowest paid in the civil service and are the lowest paid in the emergency services. The union has been in dispute over pay for more than four years and had previously been given assurances any reorganisation would also include a discussion on pay. So far, this has not happened.
PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: “Coastguard staff and the public have roundly rejected these cuts, and we have very serious concerns they will put lives at risk.
“The government should heed these concerns, scrap the plans and sit down with us to talk about how to develop a safe, reliable and professional coastguard service for the future.”
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