Inter-island travel will be disrupted tomorrow as the first of a series of planned ferry mates’ strikes gets underway.
The industrial action involves members of the trade union Unite which is in dispute with the SIC over pay and conditions.
The strike is due to begin at 5.45am for three hours, followed by another strike of similar duration next Wednesday. Longer strikes are planned for the following two Wednesdays if the situation is not resolved. Additionally, ferry mates will not “act up” as masters on the days immediately before the strike action, including today.
The dispute follows the rejection by Unite members of proposals from the council that would see mates who act up re-graded to take account of their higher duties. At present, the qualified mates are only paid as masters for the time that they are acting as ferry skippers.
Infrastructure services director Maggie Sandison last week spoke of her “disappointment” that the strikes were going ahead despite the involvement of conciliation service Acas.
Today the SIC issued a notice detailing when and where disruption was anticipated:
• The first sailings on Yell Sound will be at 9.15am from Ulsta; and 9.45am from Toft, as per normal timetable. These are bookable sailings.
• Bluemull Sound service will commence by Bigga at 9am from Gutcher.
• The Whalsay service will commence by Hendra at 9am from Symbister. This is an extra run, no bookings will be taken for this sailing, it will be first come first served. The first sailing by Linga will be at 9.15am from Symbister.
• The Bressay service will start at 8.50am from Bressay.
• The Skerries service will begin with the Filla departing Symbister as soon as possible after 8.45am and will go straight to Lerwick, the return departure will be at the usual time.
After the above sailings are completed normal timetables will be operated. Bookings for any of the sailings which do not operate due to the strike action will be lost and will not be carried forward.
North Isles councillor Gary Cleaver said that he did not want to comment on the issue as the dispute was ongoing but added: “The communities affected by it will do their best to accomodate their inconvenience and hopefully it will be resolved soon.”
Latest information is available at – www.shetland.gov.uk/ferries/Latestnews.asp