STENA Line port workers and seafarers at Holyhead will be asked to ballot on whether to strike over a company wide sick pay dispute.

The National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) allege a sick pay scheme, agreed with the recognised trade unions, was in place for seafarers and port workers in Stena Line until the start of the pandemic when Stena unilaterally scrapped it, forcing staff infected with or displaying symptoms of Coronavirus to rely on Statutory Sick Pay.

Stena Line employs two ships making each making two daily crossings between Holyhead and Dublin.

RMT General Secretary, Mick Cash said: “Stena Line took an outrageous risk with our members health at the start of this pandemic by scrapping the union agreed sick pay scheme.

“We are now asking members whether they are prepared to take industrial action on Stena Line ships and in Stena Line ports to restore the agreed sick pay scheme.

"Our members have been patient and battled through the pandemic at great personal cost to keep the company afloat and Stena Line need to recognise that ahead of an expected recovery in passenger numbers.”

There was a coronavirus outbreak amongst crew on the Stena Horizon ferry working between Holyhead and Dublin in November 2020 which required the whole crew to self isolate on the vessel while it was anchored in Holyhead.

A spokesman for Stena Line said: “The decision to call for a ballot of members is disappointing given a number of other trade unions have recommended their members accept the new proposals, which also includes additional special provisions to assist employees affected by Covid-19.

“Stena Line has been in detailed consultation with all the trade unions involved and has sought to develop a comprehensive sick pay scheme, which is both equitable and sustainable for the long term viability of its business.

“The need for establishing a sustainable scheme has been brought into sharp focus over the last 12 months during which time the company has had to deal with the unprecedented challenges of the Pandemic and Brexit disruptions.

“These factors resulted in the company suffering significant financial losses. Despite this Stena Line has continued operate and the company is now doing all it can to help protect the future employment of its workforce.

“Stena Line has given a commitment to review its current proposal when its financial trading position improves.”