A FORCE of defiant seamen carrying placards went on strike for the first time in more than 500 years over pay increases.

About 40 Trinity House workers staged the 24-hour walk out on Wednesday in a bid to make their voices heard.

The seafarers, who are all members of Unite, work on the Harwich-based boats Patricia, Galatea and Alert.

The workers took action by holding the strike on the boats after dealing with seven years of below inflation pay rises or no increases at all.

The protest was held after talks between Unite and management at the company failed to reach an agreement on pay.

Miles Hubbard, regional officer for the union, said: “As we always say, if we don’t fight then we definitely won’t win the battle.

“The union and our members are ready to talk as soon as employers come up with a solution to this dispute.

“The workers of the Trinity House vessels carry out a safety-critical role on voyages.”

He added the members are experienced seafarers on the ships which maintain buoyage and seamarks which are essential for the well-being of mariners in British waters.

Lighthouse tenders assist in maintaining almost 11,000 navigation aids and are involved in a survey of lighting on North Sea oil rigs.

The strike was the first over pay in Trinity House’s 505-year-old history.

Unite’s members voted by 90 per cent for the strike action to take place.

A Trinity House spokesman said: “All our staff are highly valued, but Trinity House salaries are subject to public sector pay policy and all staff have been awarded the maximum possible within the Civil Service rules.”

He added regular meetings have taken place with the union and he said Trinity House remains open to consider any proposals which might be achievable within the rules the company is obliged to follow.

The 2018 to 2019 year is now closed with all staff receiving the maximum 1.5 per cent award. Trinity House is now waiting for Government guidance for the current year.

The spokesman added: “The strike action took place over a crew change period when ships would routinely be in port. The action did not affect the normal operation of Trinity House’s physical or digital aids to navigation.”