Marine pilots are highest paid council employees

Two marine pilots working at the Sullom Voe Oil Terminal were the highest paid council employees during the 2015/16 year.

Recently published council accounts revealed that the pilots earned more than £150,000 each.

One pilot, who was acting harbourmaster during the year, earned £157,200, while a second marine pilot earned £152,924.

This means that both individuals earned over £50,000 more than the council’s chief executive, Mark Boden.

Director of infrastructure services Maggie Sandison explained that both individuals worked a “lot of additional overtime” during the year.

She said that this did not, however, create a burden on council finances.

This was because savings were being made on unfilled vacancies in the ports and harbours department.

She also noted that the “costs of salaries are recharged to tankers” using the council operated port at Sullom Voe.

Mrs Sandison hoped that savings would be made on overtime this financial year, with the council advertising the vacant posts of harbourmaster and depute harbourmaster – though the latter role could be abolished if it proves difficult to fill.

Meanwhile, options such as new shift patterns or a weekend shutdown are being considered as BP attempts to reduce overhead costs at the terminal.

A combination of low oil prices and declining throughput to Sullom Voe from the East Shetland Basin has prompted BP to explore ways of reducing costs.

The council operated Sella Ness port has been singled out for scrutiny as BP weigh up their options.

Closing the port over the weekend is one of those options. Altering workers’ shift patterns or reducing active hours at the port are two further possibilities.

Mrs Sandison said: “We don’t know what the proposals from BP will be.

“At the moment we know that they’re doing some remodeling to reduce total overheads for running the terminal. They’re looking at all of the arrangements to see what they can do.”

She added that the council was awaiting word on BP’s final decision at which time they would “make adjustments”.

An anonymous BP statement said no firm decisions had been made as studies were ongoing.

The company said: “We are working collaboratively with the port and harbour to identify all potential options to reduce operating costs and increase efficiency in order to help sustain and improve the competitiveness of SVT for the long-term.”


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