ORKNEY FERRY workers are proposing to take industrial action over a long running pay dispute with the operating company.

A recent ballot carried out by the maritime trade union Nautilus found that Orkney members of the group were massively in favour of taking action, with only one member against the strike. National ferry organiser Micky Smyth commented: “The ballot results are very clear and reflect the long-running frustration of our members about their pay and conditions.

“Independent research conducted in response to those concerns demonstrated that the salaries of our Orkney Ferries members are around 10% below those of other officers carrying out the same duties in comparable ferry companies.

“Our 2017 pay claim – which was submitted whilst we were discussing the results of the study with management – sought an increase over the March RPI inflation rate of 3.2%, as well as a further seven days of annual leave entitlement.

“However, management has failed to move from their position of an offer for a 1.5% increase, which falls far short of our members’ aspirations,” said Mr Smyth. “We have attempted to resolve this matter amicably, but to no avail so far. We therefore urge the company to think very seriously about the emphatic results of this ballot and to revert with meaningful proposals to address the concerns of our members.”

The Scottish Farmer spoke with NFU Scotland to find out the impact the proposed strikes would have on livestock trade to and from the islands. Kenny Slater, secretary for NFU Scotland in Kirkwall, was not particularly alarmed by the proposed action: “This is not a busy time of year for cattle coming off the island and if there were to be disruptions, the expectation is that we would be given good warning, so farmers could plan accordingly to ship animals off the island. The main concern would be if it became a prolonged dispute as our busy period will hit in late spring.”