Port workers to resume strike action amid overtime pay dispute

The overtime ban at Lerwick Port is set to have a 'severe impact' on operations at the harbour in Shetland.

Lerwick Port workers to resume strike action following breakdown in overtime pay negotiations iStock

Workers at the Lerwick Port Authority will resume industrial action following a breakdown in overtime pay negotiations.

Around a dozen key workers are scheduled to begin a continuous ban on overtime from midnight on May 25 at the Shetland harbour.

Unite union bosses say with “significant hours of overtime required” to ensure the running of operations at the port, the ban will have a “severe impact” on the cruise liners and fuel vessels that use the harbour.

Union members have demanded they are paid the same rate as workers paid at other UK ports.

They are also challenging a number of “detrimental” changes to basic pay, and benefits.

The changes are set to further cut the incomes of workers who derive 40p per pound of their pay from overtime payments, according to Unite.

The union’s general secretary, Sharon Graham, said: “Unite’s members at Lerwick Port Authority are simply demanding that they are paid the rate for the job.

“This is a multi-million pound business so it has no business paying Lerwick workers less than port workers get around the UK. Unite is challenging this all the way and our members have the full backing of their union in the fight to secure better jobs, pay and conditions.” 

Unite is demanding that the port workers wages be brought into line with industry standards set by the National Agreement for the Engineering Construction Industry (NAECI) and the Scottish Joint Industry Board (SJIB).

John Clark, Unite industrial officer, said: “The overtime ban will have a severe impact on the port’s operations because they rely on our members working extra hours to ensure no disruptions or delays.

“We warned weeks ago that unless there is progress in talks then we would re-start industrial action. The blames lies exclusively with the Port Authority who continue to pay well below the current national agreements which are set by industry-wide bodies.”

Turnover at Lerwick Port Authority stood at £9.5m in 2020. It received the 2021 Port of the Year Award, and recently benefited from a £30m upgrade scheme.

Lerwick Port Authority has been contacted for comment.

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