Agreement reached between Nautilus and Steam Packet Company over 'live onboard' working conditions

Credit: ITV Granada Reports

An agreement has been reached between a union and the Isle of Man's ferry company, following a dispute around working conditions.

Members of the Nautilus Union were in dispute with the Steam Packet Company (SPC), after they set out new work conditions, which would see ferry workers live on-board, rather than going home after working hours.

Following negotiations, the union say "officers will now have more time at home with their families and loved ones than originally offered, while also allowing provision for live aboard".

Three quarters of Nautilus members voted to accept the new offer, after a period of 'intense negotiations', facilitated by the Manx Industrial Relations Services.

The 'Manxman' ferry was built with live on-board facilities for crew members. Credit: Steam Packet Company

Nautilus senior national organiser Garry Elliot said: “I must thank our members at Steam Packet for their resolve during what has been an incredibly difficult time.

“I would also like to thank the Manx public who, despite the disruption, stood with our members and offered them support and solidarity.

“Through collective action, our members have ensured that changes to their terms and conditions are reasonable and acceptable to both them and the company.

“Nautilus has held a collective bargaining agreement with Steam Packet for many years, we look forward to working with the company in the spirit of partnership and social dialogue.

“We further call on the Manx government to once and for all outlaw fire and rehire.”

The Steam Packet Company is the island's only ferry service operating to Heysham, Liverpool, Belfast and Dublin. Credit: ITV Granada Reports

Workers represented by the union began industrial action over the Christmas and New Year period, forcing the SPC to introduce a contingency sailing schedule.

On 5 January 2024, Nautilus members ended the action when Steam Packet rescinded the notice of termination, allowing for a period of intense negotiations to take place, facilitated by the Manx Industrial Relations Services.

Brian Thomson, Managing Director of IOMSPC, said: "We are pleased that our Officers and Nautilus brought solutions to our negotiations that have enabled us to reach a positive and fair agreement that ensures that we can continue to deliver a high-quality service to our customers.

"We would like to thank our employees for their hard work and dedication during this period. We can now focus on delivering the reliable and quality service that our passengers expect and deserve on board our vessels which are the envy of the Irish Sea.”

In a statement, the SPC added that "living aboard allows for more flexibility and resilience, and a reduction in the number of cancellations, providing a stronger lifeline ferry service for the Isle of Man."

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