Isle of Man Steam Packet Co (IoMSP) has threatened the UK union Nautilus International’s members with fire and rehire if they do not accept significant changes to their contracts of employment forcing them to live on board vessels.
For the last two years, the company, has refused to listen to the legitimate concerns of members about the detrimental impact living aboard will have on their family life.
The new live on board requirements will mean a loss of 83 days per year with their families ashore.
IoMSP has claimed publicly to have offered a generous package of measures, which is at best disingenuous and at worst misleading, Nautilus claimed.
Members were offered the equivalent to £6.85 extra per day (based on average salary) for each day they live on board, which decreases each year. The company also offered a loss of 76 days per year with family rather than 83.
Due to a lack of progress throughout negotiations and consistent with the obligations under the collective bargaining agreement signed by both Nautilus International and IoMSP, the union requested an independent arbitration process where both parties would agree to support the outcome.
However, the IoMSP refused this request.
Nautilus has consistently made clear to the company that members are not against live on board; they are simply asking that these changes are phased in and existing contracts are honoured.
Nautilus said that it had tried, at length, to avoid entering an industrial dispute on behalf of members that could cause disruption to the island’s ferry services. However the company’s intransigence means this is increasingly likely.
“We stand ready to consider a genuine offer from Isle of Man Steam Packet Co but threatening our members with fire and rehire is not the basis for good faith negotiations,” the union stressed.
The IoMSP said that after two years of negotiations with unions, during which time the company agreed a number of compromises, it has decided to bring negotiations relating to live on board arrangements to a conclusion.
The company claimed that it had agreed a generous package of measures in return for changes to working practices with one of the unions, but has so far been unable to reach agreement with Nautilus.
Negotiations seemed to have reached an impasse. As a consequence, the IoMSP has written to the union to set-out the various options open to its members.
The purpose of the changes to working practices is to improve the reliability and resilience of services for the benefit of customers and the travelling public, the company said.
The company also claimed that it was keen to resolve the matter in an amicable way, as soon as possible, in order to maintain its focus on fully realising the step change in its services to customers recently facilitated by the introduction of its new flagship ‘Manxman’.