Deal struck to end ferry strike threat

The Scottish Government has published the initial Invitation to Tender for the next Clyde and Hebrides Ferry Service contract.
The Scottish Government has published the initial Invitation to Tender for the next Clyde and Hebrides Ferry Service contract.

An agreement has been reached to end the threat of further strike action on CalMac ferry services to and from Rothesay and other island communities.

The announcement that a deal had been struck came less than 24 hours after the RMT union complained about a “bitterly disappointing” lack of progress in talks with CalMac Ferries Ltd and the Scottish Government.

The agreement has been struck with both the RMT and the TSSA union, which represents around a hundred shore-based CalMac staff who had voted in favour of industrial action earlier this month.

Speaking after chairing the talks, the Scottish Government’s minister for transport and islands, Derek Mackay, said: “All parties involved in the talks have worked hard to find a solution and I am very pleased an agreement has now been reached that ends the threat of further strike action.

“Nowhere will this news be welcomed more than in our islands and we must now return our focus on delivering these vital ferry services for the communities that depend on them.

“The agreement also means that the tendering process for the next CHFS contract will continue, with the Initial Invitation To Tender set to issue on July 31.

“I’m well aware of the lifeline role these services play in supporting our islands and the Scottish Government remains committed to delivering the very best deal for all of the communities of the Clyde and Hebrides.”

The RMT’s concerns over the implications of the tendering process on jobs, conditions of service and pensions led the union to stage a 24-hour walkout on June 26; a further strike on July 10 was called off so that further talks could take place.

Martin Dorchester, managing director of CalMac Ferries said: “We can confirm that we have been able to conclude talks with the RMT and the TSSA and that their concerns have been addressed. Further strike action was in no one’s interests.

“I’d like to recognise the positive engagement and support of all our unions in achieving this position.

“Now is the time for everyone at CalMac to start focusing one hundred per cent on successfully winning the Clyde and Hebrides Ferry Service contract.

“This is the best way of not only ensuring long term protection for our employees but also of securing the quality lifeline services we provide to the communities we serve. We are the best company to deliver these services and I look forward to working with all our colleagues to achieve this goal.”