Wales

Swansea coastguard station understaffed, says union

Swansea coastguard station is seriously understaffed with 13 instead of 22 rescue co-ordinators, a union claims.

The Public and Commercial Services union says the situation is troubling at the busiest time of year.

Coastguards says it has recently recruited 28 watch officer posts with more recruitment on the way.

Under modernisation plans the union claims nine of the UK's 19 stations - including Swansea - could close with the loss of 140 jobs.

The union said that as well as staff vacancies at Swansea, the biggest gaps elsewhere are at Aberdeen, Dover, Liverpool, Shetland and Thames in Essex.

The PCS says it remains opposed to any closures because it says it does not think the UK government has made a "convincing case to either the public or parliament that lives will not be put at risk".

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: "It is deeply troubling that, at the coastguard's busiest time, there are such large holes in staffing.

"Officers have been leaving in droves because of the government's ill-thought through plans and ministers and senior officials need to address this urgently."

In a statement the MCA said it had recently completed a recruitment campaign where 28 watch officer vacancies were filled at locations around the coast and another recruitment campaign is underway.

"Currently, where a Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC) is experiencing reduced staffing levels, established 'pairing' arrangements are used," the MCA said.

"This means each MRCC can be connected to at least one other MRCC that will provide mutual support.

"Under the future structure, the introduction of the 'National Network' as part of the modernisation of HM Coastguard will enable the National Maritime Operations Centre and all other centres to coordinate any incident around the UK coast, enabling workload and incidents to be managed nationally rather than locally as at present, " the MCA added.

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