The Steam Packet Company today hit back in a row with a union that represents some of its staff.

Isle of Man Today reported earlier that the Steam Packet had issued an ‘ultimatum’ to the Nautilus union’s members after two years of negotiations - read that story here.

No agreement was reached on new contract terms which would see crew members live on board vessels for up to two weeks and work a watch system.

The Steam Packet has now introduced a ‘30-day consultation period’ to any Nautilus members who refuse to the live-on-board terms.

Isle of Man Today understands the offer will be dropped should an agreement fail to be reached between the two parties, with a three-month notice period before a termination of contract.

On Wednesday, Nautilus International released a scathing statement, which labelled the Steam Packet as ‘dishonest’ and claimed the company had ‘not entered into negotiations with Nautilus union members in good faith.’

The statement also read: ‘The company, over the last two years, has refused to listen to the legitimate concerns of our members about the impact living aboard will have on their family life.

‘Nautilus has consistently made clear to the company that our members are not against live aboard; they are simply asking that these changes are phased in and existing contracts are honoured.’

The managing director of the Steam Packet, Brian Thomson, hit back this afternoon.

Brian Thomson, managing director of the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company

He said in a statement: ‘I thank the union for stating their agreement with the company and that there are no objections to living on-board.

‘This is the one addition the Steam Packet wish to make.

‘I hope this means there is still an opportunity to resolve this discussion amicably. The offer that is on the table now is a strong one and reflects various compromises made by the company in relation to its starting position.

‘This includes the choice of week on/week off, or two weeks on/two weeks off working rotations, additional days leave and the additional bonus mentioned by Nautilus.

‘The rationale for returning to a live on-board model is very clear.

‘The current need to change crews in Douglas approximately every 12 hours leads to avoidable cancellations.

‘Despite the cancellation of all sailings on Wednesday due to Storm Agnes, we were able to reposition Manxman to Heysham to ensure that the shelves remained stocked and goods continued to flow.

‘This would not have been possible were it not a live on-board vessel.’