Fresh talks in bid to end ferry row

MV Clipper pictured approaching Rothesay pier while providing a passenger-only service to and from Wemyss Bay during the RMT's 24-hour strike on June 26, 2015.

MV Clipper pictured approaching Rothesay pier while providing a passenger-only service to and from Wemyss Bay during the RMT's 24-hour strike on June 26, 2015.

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More talks are to be held in a bid to resolve the dispute which saw ferry services to Bute - and other Scottish islands - badly disrupted last week.

RMT officials are to meet management from CalMac Ferries Ltd (CFL) this week in the hope of securing a solution to the union’s concerns over jobs, conditions and pensions sparked by the Scottish Government’s tendering of ferry services to the Clyde and Hebrides.

Three days of industrial action by RMT members working on board CalMac’s ferries culminated in a 24-hour strike on Friday, June 26 which saw most of the ferry operator’s larger vessels - including MVs Bute and Argyle - confined to port.

A limited passenger-only service was provided on the Rothesay-Wemyss Bay route using MV Clipper, chartered by CFL from Greenock-based Clyde Marine for the day, though the Rhubodach-Colintraive vehicle and passenger service was unaffected.

The union’s fears are focussed on the possibility of a private sector operator, Serco, winning the new Clyde and Hebrides Ferry Service (CHFS) contract, which takes effect in October 2016 and is due to last for eight years.

However, the Scottish Government has insisted that the tendering of the contract does not amount to ‘privatisation’ of ferry services.