THE Royal Navy’s newest and most expensive ever warship could end up stranded in port due to a strike by a tug boat crew.
The £3.1 billion aircraft carrier Queen Elizabeth is moored in Portsmouth, where tug boat crews employed by privateer Serco are involved in a national pay dispute affecting military naval bases at Greenock, Faslane, Kyle and Devonport.
Serco took over tug boat services from the Royal Maritime Auxiliary Service in 1996 and employs 350 crew at the five bases.
The crew, who are members of the Unite union, have overwhelmingly rejected an imposed pay settlement of 1.8 per cent for 2016/7 and 2.2 per cent for 2017/8 and are to ballot on industrial action, including strike action.
Unite said that if its members voted for strike action, the first casualty would be the Queen Elizabeth, the Royal Navy’s largest-ever warship, which would be unable to leave Portsmouth as scheduled next month.
Unite national officer Bobby Morton said: “Serco Marine Services has imposed a derisory pay award when inflation is taking off — the consumer price index (CPI) is standing at 2.9 per cent currently.
“The only way to settle the dispute is for the company to withdraw the unilateral imposition of the pay award and return to the negotiating table with Unite for constructive talks.
“It is a travesty that Serco has backed the union into an industrial corner, leaving Unite with absolutely no option other than to come out fighting — choppy waters lie ahead.”