PCS and RMT work together to protect jobs at the coastguard and maritime rescue centre

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PCS and RMT today demanded a halt to the government’s planned cuts and closure programme to coastguard and maritime rescue centres.

The call comes as it emerged that one of the threatened rescue facilities, Clyde, is set to be closed in December with indications that no alternative capacity is due to come on stream until 2014 leaving the life-saving services with hopelessly inadequate cover for over a year.

The unions say the whole botched Clyde coastguard closure plan, confirmed in a letter from the minister Mike Penning, shows that the nationwide reorganisation by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency is simply a cuts-led exercise that will have devastating implications for safety at sea.

It also appears to go against a commitment Penning gave to parliament in November that no centres would close “before the robustness of the system is demonstrated”.

As well as Clyde, Forth is due to close in the autumn with Yarmouth believed to be next in line. Staffing numbers at Clyde have already been run down to dangerously low levels.

The MCA proposals would cut more than 140 jobs and close nine coastguard stations around the UK: Brixham, Clyde, Forth, Liverpool, Portland, Solent, Swansea, Thames, Yarmouth.

In addition, for the sake of £400,000 per year, the coalition government abolished the Maritime Incident Response Group which had valuable expertise and capability in fighting fires at sea, loading even more demand on the MRCC’s.

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: “We believe these cuts could put lives at risk, and we know our concerns are shared by seafarers and people in our coastal communities.

“Instead of gambling with people’s lives, ministers should be investing to ensure we have the proper resources in place to run a safe and effective coastguard service.”

RMT general secretary Bob Crow said: “Our members at sea depend on facilities like the Clyde coastguard day in and day out to ensure their safety and we are one hundred per cent behind the PCS-led campaign to save these essential services from the government axe.

“Clearly, the whole botched handling of the Clyde centre, the first on the hit list, is a foretaste of what can be expected around the rest of the coast as the cuts plans are rolled out.”


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