NE Scotland, Orkney & Shetland

PCS concern at Coastguard staffing levels

Coastguard stations are being left significantly understaffed, a union has said.

The Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union said these included the Aberdeen base which was running seven staff short of its full compliment of 26, with Shetland missing a third of staff.

The union described the figures as "deeply troubling".

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency said a recruitment campaign was under way.

The PCS also highlighted issues at stations including Dover and Thames.

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 closure plans and ministers and senior officials need to address this urgently."

'Mutual support'

An MCA spokesperson said: "Currently, where a Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Centre is experiencing reduced staffing levels, established 'pairing' arrangements are used.

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

"Regarding Aberdeen specifically, pairing arrangements enable support to be available through a fixed link from the MRCC in Shetland and via dial up links from the MRCCs in Belfast, Stornoway, Humber or Liverpool.

"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 co-ordinate any incident around the UK coast, enabling workload and incidents to be managed nationally rather than locally as at present."

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