DEFIANT seamen stood in unison with placards and banners to protest over pay increases.

Trinity House seafarers, who earlier this month engaged in their first pay dispute in more than 500 years, held a protest yesterday afternoon in The Quay, Harwich.

The seamen, who have a key role in maintaining safety in British waters, took a second day of strike action in their dispute over seven years of below inflation pay rises, or no increases at all.

They are members of the union Unite and work on three lighthouse tenders - Galatea and Alert based in Harwich and the Patricia whose home port is Swansea.

Miles Hubbard said the protest demonstrated how the union’s members seek pay justice and don’t want to put up with miserly rates of pay they have endured over the last seven years.

He said: “It’s an opportunity for us to send a message to the company.

“Our work is an important part of Harwich life and great efforts were made to keep Trinity House here.

“The least the company could do is pay us a decent wage.”

In 2017, the employer imposed a one per cent pay increase which Unite members rejected.

Talks, including a pay increase for the year starting April 2018, continued, but eventually run aground.

Jamie Campbell, catering manager for Trinity House, said: “We’ve had years of cuts and over the last seven years we’ve had no pay rise at all and thought enough is enough.

“What we do is a dangerous job and we have reached the end of our tethers.”

The protest was held from 1pm until 2pm.

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

“Regular meetings have taken place with the union and Trinity House remains open to consider any proposals which might be achievable within the rules that we are obliged to follow.”

The 2018 to 2019 year has now closed with all staff receiving the maximum 1.5 per cent award and with workers awaiting guidance on the next move.