RNLI warn over threatened Coastguard action
The RNLI fears the threatened strike by Coastguard officers may affect lifeboats launching.
The charity also fears it may lose out on vital funding because of public confusion over its role and the Coastguard’s role in lifesaving.
A massive 91% of staff in the 18 Coastguard Maritime Rescue Coordination Centres around the UK are threatening strike action after months of negotiations over pay with Government bosses.
They want pay scale parity with other emergency workers such as firemen and ambulance drivers.
RNLI Operations Director Michael Vlasto believes the threatened strike could affect lifeboats launching.
He says: “HM Coastguard has a statutory responsibility for initiating and coordinating search and rescue around the coastline of the UK.
“Anything that causes a break in the communications chain between those requiring assistance, HM Coastguard and the resources – in our case RNLI lifeboats – could potentially put lives at risk.
“They have advised us that they are developing contingency plans to ensure that this vital communications chain to our crews will be safeguarded.”
In the UK, requests for RNLI lifeboats to launch are initiated through HM Coastguard-operated centres.
The RNLI’s national fundraising day takes place next week on Friday 25 January.
The charity says: “In recent media speculation over the possibility and consequences of strike action by the MCA, there have been several instances where the respective roles of the RNLI and HM Coastguard have been confused by the media.
“This is particularly damaging to the reputation of the RNLI, a charity, whose annual national fundraising day – SOS Day – takes place on Friday 25 January.”
Fundraising and Communications Director David Brann adds: “Our volunteers have spent months preparing for this event but if the public think we are part of the Coastguard and part of any strike action they will not support our fundraising.
“That’s why it is so important to us that our position is made clear and the selfless life-saving actions of our lifeboat volunteers, such as in saving eight crew from the sinking Ice Prince earlier this week, are accurately reported.”