Ferry strike averted as unions and Serco NorthLink settle dispute

Trade unions have settled an industrial dispute with Serco NorthLink Ferries just over a week before the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union’s ballot for strike action on the north boats was due to close.

The RMT announced today that it had struck a deal to ensure pensions, jobs and working conditions are protected. It follows a meeting last week with Serco NorthLink managing director Stuart Garrett.

In a statement, the RMT said written assurances it had been seeking regarding pensions, place of work, staffing levels and “other outstanding issues” had now been received. It said Serco had clearly stated that any future changes to existing terms and conditions or staffing levels “must and will be subject to negotiation and agreement within the existing machinery”.

Unions had set a 9th August deadline for strike action ballot papers to be returned. Serco had previously agreed to honour members’ pension entitlement after inheriting the service from NorthLink at the start of July.

But unions decided to ballot in relation to proposed changes to terms and conditions, including the introduction of zero hours contracts for some staff.

RMT general secretary Bob Crow said: “The latest information on the Serco NorthLink Ferries dispute has now been considered by the union’s executive committee which has agreed that members’ major concerns have been addressed and has noted the commitment that no changes will take place in the future without negotiations.

“The dispute is now resolved and the ballot for industrial action will be cancelled. RMT congratulates all of our members on their steadfast resolve and solidarity during this dispute which has led us to be able to successfully protect jobs and existing agreements.”

Mr Crow continued: “The successful conclusion of the dispute has demonstrated to all what can be achieved when workers are prepared to stand up and fight against threats and attacks from the employer.

“Should any agreement not be adhered to in the future, RMT will have no hesitation in fighting industrially and legally to protect our members’ position and that principle applies right across the board.”

Stuart Garrett, managing director of Serco NorthLink Ferries, said: “We welcome today’s announcement which follows a productive meeting with RMT in Aberdeen last Monday, 23rd July.

“We are now looking forward to continued dialogue with our employees and representative organisations.”


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