Coastguards are to strike for the first time in their history in a row over pay.
Members of the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) working at the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) have overwhelmingly voted to hold a one day walkout on 6 March.
The MCA said it was “saddened” by the move.
The union claims the strike is in response to pay levels that fall behind those paid to other emergency services and the government’s policy of below inflation cost of living increases. Up to 700 members have been taking part in industrial action short of a strike since the end of May last year.
The one-day stoppage will hit emergency calls in addition to the operations of the 19 UK rescue co-ordination centres that control search-and-rescue operations, lifeboats, helicopters and other rescue teams.
Mark Serwotka, PCS general secretary, said: “Coastguards are the forgotten emergency service and the government needs to act quickly in paying them a wage that is comparable to other emergency services.”
Peter Cardy, MCA chief executive said: “I am very saddened by this result and the planned strike. I had hoped this strike could be avoided by our engagement with the trade unions.
“Safety at sea is the MCA’s key priority and, through contingency plans that are now in place, I can reassure the public that an emergency response for those at risk will not be compromised by industrial action.”