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UK Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) staff strike action - Isle of Man Waters Contingency Plan 5 March 2008

The union representing MCA staff at Maritime Rescue Coordination Centres [MRCC’s], which includes Liverpool Coastguard, have announced that due to an unresolved industrial dispute, strike action will be taken by staff at all 19 MRCC’s for 24 hours from 7am on Thursday 6th March to 8am on Friday 7th March 2008. It should be noted that this action is by UK Coastguard staff only and does not include IOM Coastguard staff, RNLI Lifeboats or Search and Rescue Helicopters.

Under the normal terms of an Memorandum of Understanding with the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA), Liverpool Coastguard respond to 999 calls and radio distress calls originating from the island and within Manx Waters. They achieve radio coverage of Manx Waters, in part, by use of an aerial on Snaefell.

999 Coastguard calls are routed by Manx Telecom to Liverpool Coastguard. Any 999 calls where the caller is not specific about wanting to speak to the Coastguard are routed to the emergency Services Joint Control Room in Douglas.

We have been informed that Liverpool Coastguard intend to maintain a coordination response to 999 calls and radio distress calls by using management and non union staff. They will be covering both their own and the Holyhead Coastguard’s patch which is an area from the Mull of Galloway to Mid Wales.

MCA are also setting up a national ‘Strategic Support Centre’ ‘to provide strategic and tactical support to MRCC’s and other responders’. In the event that these combined arrangements become overwhelmed, MCA have asked that adjacent authorities and Harbour Authorities be prepared to respond to calls in their areas.

Harbour Control, with its normal staff supplemented by IOM Coastguard managers, will stand ready to respond to incidents in Manx Waters, throughout the strike period, should MCA resources become overwhelmed. The distress channel will be monitored and Manx Telecom and Emergency Services Joint Control Room will be provided with direct telephone numbers for Harbour Control, should they fail to contact Liverpool Coastguard.

If Liverpool Coastguard become overwhelmed and are not able to adequately deal with an incident occurring in Manx Waters. Harbour Control staff, supplemented by IOM Coastguard managers will respond to the initial call, gather all relevant information and make arrangements with the authorities in charge of local RNLI lifeboats and UK based Search and Rescue helicopters to respond as appropriate. Attempts will be made throughout an incident to return control to Liverpool Coastguard at the earliest opportunity.

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