Saturday, 8 March 2008

Coastguards first ever strike

Last September and October saw me pen pieces about the National Coastwatch Institution whose website can be found here. They are a charity and act as eyes and ears around much of our coast and came into being as a result of a boating tragedy off the south coast of Cornwall. Of course we still have our paid coastguard service and these are the people who will respond to your 999 call. This week the coastguards went on a 24 hour stoppage, the first ever strike in their history. Hardly a hotbed of militancy they felt compelled to take action as they have seen their pay slip to the extent that those in the organisation on the lowest rates are only getting the national minimum wage! Understandably they would like some degree of parity with those manning control rooms in the other emergency services. It is an indictment of our country that we reward such people so badly.

I mentioned the National Coastwatch Institution as they are yet another set of people saving the country a ton of money. Many of their lookouts are the same buildings formerly used by the coastguards. With more people working part time or retiring early there is great scope for folk to do this sort of voluntary work which is usually on a part time basis. If it wasn't for the voluntary sector this country wouldn't be able to function. The point I really want to make here is that with so much of the coastguards earlier function being taken over by a voluntary organisation, the NCI, there is even less excuse not to pay the control room staff at such coordinating centres as Falmouth and Brixham a proper salary.

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