Nautilus International has condemned the latest move by Isle of Man Steam Packet Company, which has issued an ultimatum to ships' officers, threatening them with fire and rehire if they do not accept fundamental changes to their terms and conditions by 22 December.
Nautilus International head of governance and compliance Garry Elliot said: 'Steam Packet Company are, yet again, using bullying tactics to force their will on our members into accepting contractual changes that would see them lose over 70 days per year with their families.
'Steam Packet have told our members that if they do not agree to these fundamental changes they will be sacked and offered a new contract; this is fire and rehire.
'Unfortunately, the sheer intransigence of the company, refusing independent arbitration and threatening fire and rehire, means industrial action and disruption to Steam Packet services is increasingly likely.
'While we respect that Steam Packet is an 'arms-length' body and the Isle of Man government does not get involved in operational matters, we are now at a stage where disruption to vital supply chains for the island is likely and government must intervene.
'The Isle of Man government should also be clear to the Manx public, as ultimate shareholders, that they condemn the use of fire and rehire tactics.'
In a letter to crew on Monday 11 December 2023, Steam Packet Managing Director Brian Thomson said: 'If agreement to the LOB arrangements cannot be reached, we will need to then consider giving notice to terminate your current employment contract and offer re-engagement on new contracts that incorporate the LOB arrangements as set out in the FAQ.'
Nautilus International is currently undertaking a ballot for industrial action at the company, which is open until 18 December.
Nautilus will be seeking a meeting with the Isle of Man treasury minister as soon as possible.
A similar threat of fire and rehire was made by Steam Packet in September 2023 after the company refused to enter arbitration over live aboard proposals.