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Union to ballot Steam Packet officers over possible industrial action

Nautilus says it's given notice of the ballot today

The union representing officers at the Isle of Man Steam Packet is to ballot its members over possible industrial action.

Nautilus says it's served the company notice of the move today.

A statement issued this afternoon says: "The ballot comes as Steam Packet threatened Nautilus members with the possibility of fire and rehire if they refused to accept fundamental changes to their terms and conditions over the company’s insistence that employees ‘live aboard’. The company have also failed to engage with the union in seeking arbitration in accordance with its obligations under the Collective Bargaining Agreement."

"Nautilus members stand to lose up to 76 days per year with their friends and family should the changes be forced through by the company."

The union's International Senior National Organiser, Garry Elliot, says: “Steam Packet have continually refused to recognise the significant sacrifice they are requiring our members to make to live aboard, losing 76 days per year with their friends and family."

"As we have said from the beginning, we have never been against ‘live aboard’ in its entirety, we have simply requested that the company act in a reasonable manner by phasing in the changes, offer a fair remuneration for the significant  impact these changes would have on our members way of life, and, where necessary, honour existing contracts of employment.

"Steam Packet have consistently failed to appreciate and recognise the genuine concerns of Nautilus members. They also refused to engage in independent collective arbitration, as per the existing collective bargaining agreement, despite the Manx Industrial Relations Service stating they could facilitate such a process.

"If industrial action goes ahead, it will be due to the intransigence of management not the hard-working employees who are being asked to accept fundamental changes or face getting the sack."

In response, the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company said the move is 'especially disappointing'.

In a statement released to Manx Radio, a spokesperson said: "The Isle of Man Steam Packet Company notes with disappointment the notice served by Nautilus union. The Company has made a generous offer to the officers represented by the Union and this remains on the table.

"It is especially disappointing that this move comes after a period of positive engagement with Nautilus and which appeared to be on the verge of a resolution of all outstanding issues. Throughout the negotiations, the Company has made clear that officers with circumstances requiring them to be at home on a daily basis will be accommodated as far as possible. However, the future business model – of which the significant investment in Manxman is part - requires live on board as a fundamental requirement of future contractual employment.

"The Company urges Nautilus to return to the table and to negotiate a solution rather than threatening disruption of lifeline services that will affect the whole of the entire Isle of Man."

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