Serco seeks to ‘minimise’ disruption as North boats strike gets underway

The first day of strike action by Serco workers on the North boats got underway as threatened today.

General secretary of the RMT Union, Bob Crow, said the strike was “rock solid”.

The dispute comes despite hours of intense negotiation between union leaders and Serco management yesterday, which failed to reach a resolution.

Serco workers are striking over plans by the company to shed up to 36 jobs.

Further strikes will be held over Friday 21st and 28th December, should subsequent talks come to nothing.

In those circumstances, services from Aberdeen will also face stoppages this Sunday, and on the two following Sundays.

In a statement Mr Crow said: “Despite gross intimidation by management of staff exercising their human right to withdraw their labour, the programme of strike action on Serco Northern Isles ferries, which began at midnight, is rock solid this morning.

“This fight is about safe staffing levels and the protection of skilled jobs and public safety in the teeth of outrageous profiteering. Serco should stop the threats and start talking.”

Serco NorthLink managing director Stuart Garrett said the strike was going ahead despite the company’s “best efforts” after the RMT failed to respond to its approaches yesterday.

“We remain disappointed that industrial action means ferry services to the Northern Isles will be disrupted this weekend and potentially over the festive period,” he said.

“Dialogue has been re-established this morning and Serco remains willing to communicate, as we have throughout.

“On the Hjaltland, currently weather-bound in Lerwick, only eight of the 41 crew members affected are currently participating in industrial action.

“We have worked hard to minimise disruption to our freight and passenger customers. We have been in touch with our freight customers with details of our amended timetable which maintains freight service continuity.

“We have also tried hard to contact all those booked on disrupted passenger sailings and advised them to transfer to alternative sailings.”

• Both the M.V Hjaltland crossing scheduled to depart Lerwick sailing for Kirkwall (Hatston Pier) and Aberdeen at 5.30pm today and the  M.V Hrossey which was scheduled to depart Aberdeen for Lerwick at 7pm have been cancelled.


Add Your Comment
  • Harry Dent

    • December 14th, 2012 13:00

    Good luck to the RMT members, who are fighting not just for their own jobs, but also for the safety of the travelling public, which comes some way behind profit in Serco’s list of priorities.

  • Brian Smith

    • December 14th, 2012 18:01

    Hear, hear.

  • Liam Adamson

    • December 15th, 2012 17:32

    I wonder how much public support the Union will have with no compulsory redundancies and the rest getting an offer of 4.25%, especially at this time of year?

  • Sue Wailoo

    • December 15th, 2012 17:40

    I agree with Harry Dent..
    The blame lies with the Scottish Government who sold us out to the lowest bidder. This is what happens when public, life-line services are contracted out to private companies. Quality is sacrificed and, as a global business, SERCO has and always will be able to undercut and undermine its smaller competitors.
    Then, as we are seeing now, the cut backs begin; experienced staff are dispensed with and replaced by a lower paid, part-time, “zero hour” contract, non-union workforce; charges are introduced for previously inclusive parts of the overall service, and the paring back to bare minimum safety standards ensues. SERCO shareholders benefit and we are the losers.
    All of this should have been anticipated. The Scottish Government either doesn’t care what happens to the Northern Isles and/or is incompetent in its contracting processes.
    “Union bashing” by our elected representatives won’t help either. It is the Scottish Government’s responsibility to sort out immediately this fiasco of its own making.

  • Jordan Ogg

    • December 16th, 2012 0:12

    I recommend this link for some background on Serco’s history in the UK to date:


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