Talks to take place over union’s ferry strike threat

TALKS are to take place next month in a bid to avert the threat of a strike by the RMT union over what it says is “a deepening crisis” over “proposals to set up key Scottish ferry routes for privatisation” - including the CalMac service between Rothesay and Wemyss Bay.

The RMT announced on Wednesday that its representatives will meet the Scottish Government’s transport minister Keith Brown on September 6.

General secretary Bob Crow said last week that the union would begin the process of balloting its members for strike action after what it now says is “the total failure to give assurances to staff in advance of the planned sell-off of key routes” - a process which is to continue in spite of the confirmation of next month’s talks.

The union wants its members’ existing pension provisions to be protected and to continue unaffected, and wants to see the current practice of a single ‘joint bargaining’ approach to continue, regardless of whether the next Clyde and Hebrides ferry service (CHFS) contract sees the four routes – Rothesay-Wemyss Bay, Ardrossan-Brodick, Oban-Craignure and Largs-Cumbrae – tendered separately from the rest of the network.

Mr Crow said: “RMT welcomes the fact that the minister has agreed to an early meeting with the union straight after the summer break aimed at resolving a deepening crisis on these key Scottish ferries routes.

“Preparations for the ballot of CalMac staff continue and we are sure now that no one is in any doubt that RMT will take whatever action is necessary to protect our members’ jobs, pensions, working conditions and negotiating rights on the Scottish ferries routes, whatever threats are thrown at us.”