End of MoD Serco contract is ferry ‘wake-up call’, says union

The RMT union says Serco are "basket-cases" who are "wholly unsuitable" to operate lifeline ferry services in the Clyde and Hebrides.
The RMT union says Serco are "basket-cases" who are "wholly unsuitable" to operate lifeline ferry services in the Clyde and Hebrides.

The RMT union says the Scottish Government should take note after the Ministry of Defence decided not to renew a key contract with private firm Serco.

The MoD has opted not to extend a ‘defence business services’ contract with Serco, covering functions such as HR, payroll and security vetting, which is due to end in April.

An RMT statement referred to Serco having been ‘fired’ or ‘dumped’ from the contract - and said the news called into question the firm’s suitability to run the new Clyde and Hebrides Ferry Service (CHFS) contract, due to be awarded in May.

RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: “With Serco the only current private bidders for the C‎alMac-run Clyde and Hebrides services it is time for the Scottish Parliament to wake up, take note and rule these basket-cases out as wholly unsuitable to operate lifeline ferry routes.

“The same arguments apply to the Caledonian Sleeper where Serco’s failures and penny pinching have provoked anger and industrial action. The Scottish Government should do what the MOD have done and pull that contract from Serco and bring the route in house.”

An MoD spokesperson said: “In April 2016, the DBS management partner contract with Serco will reach its natural end and MOD has decided to initially bring the management of DBS back within the Department.”

A Serco spokesperson said: “The contract has exceeded expectations and we will hand back the senior management of this high performing service to MoD in April as planned.”

Serco is bidding against the state-owned CalMac Ferries Ltd for the right to run subsidised ferry services off Scotland’s west coast for eight years from October.