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Union takes HM Coastguard to court over workers' rights

GMB is taking HM Coastguard to court to protect workers’ rights, the general union has announced.

The uniformed service is staffed by “heroes who risk their lives to save others but they are treated worse than any other government worker,” the union charged on Monday.

Delegates at its 2022 congress in Harrogate were told that the 200-year-old service, part of the Maritime & Coastguard Agency,  must give “proper employment status to these dedicated professionals.”

The coastguard is made up of about 3,500 trained volunteers, but they are often treated as workers without being accorded the relevant rights, GMB senior organiser Gavin Davies said. 

“[They] are on call day and night and are paid expenses as other volunteers are, but the difference is that they are also paid an hourly rate. 

“They receive payslips and P60s but they are not entitled to full employment rights and union representation.

“One of our members is currently taking this matter in a test case through the employment appeal tribunal process, supported by GMB.

“The government must act as a responsible employer and recognise that these paid individuals should be called workers.”

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