Lifeboat service fears impact of industrial action

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution fear that a strike by Maritime & Coastguard staff could put lives at risk if communications break down.

Michael Vlasto, RNLI Operations Director said strike action involving HM Coastguard employees at Maritime Rescue Coordination Centres (MRCC) could affect lifeboats launching:
‘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 communciations chain to our crews will be safeguarded.’

Also as the threat of an MCA strike looms, misunderstanding of the RNLI’s role threatens next week’s national fundraising day. Some newspapers and TV reports has confused the respective roles of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) and HM Coastguard. 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, is concerned that the success of next Friday’s national SOS Day could be at risk:
‘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.’