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CalMac victory

Unite hails public service contract
Douglas Beattie, Thursday, May 19th, 2016

Unite has welcomed today’s (May 19) decision to award the western isles ferry services contract to CalMac as a victory for the workforce and a “magnificent public service.”


The new contract, worth £900m, was awarded by the Scottish government and covers the eight-year period from 1 October.


Seen by many as a national treasure state owned Caledonian MacBrayne and private outsourcing firm – Serco – had been competing for the contract.


CalMac already operates the routes on the west coast of Scotland, which include the inner and outer Hebrides.


Common Sense


Unite Scottish secretary Pat Rafferty welcomed the announcement in the Scottish Parliament.


“The decision to award the Clyde and Hebrides Ferry Services (CHFS) contract to CalMac is a win for common sense and a win for our island communities,” he said.


“To the communities they serve, these ferries are not only a transport link they are the arteries that keep Scotland’s islands alive.


“The CalMac bid was rooted in the needs of island communities, their sustainability and survival and was not based on blatant profiteering.




“Unite would wish to praise the tenacity of the Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) as well as the work of the shop stewards who refused to consider CalMac as anything but the operator of choice for this contract,” Rafferty added.


“The decision reached today is the right one. Right for the communities served by the ferries and right for the dedicated workforce serving on these ferries.


“The Scottish people expect this magnificent service to be kept in safe-keeping and run as a trusted public service.


“Thankfully, the Scottish government has listened to the calls from passengers who rely on this service, the workers serving on them and the communities that rely on them,” he went on to say.


“CalMac is as much part of our island heritage as the communities themselves and everyone’s best interests have been served by this decision today.


“This should now be the end of wasteful and costly tendering for this contract which was completely unnecessary for this vital public service”, Rafferty noted.


Unite, Scotland’s largest union, had joined forces with sister unions to campaign for CalMac to retain the ferry contract and protect members terms, conditions and pensions.


The tendering process was the source of a dispute between unions and CalMac and the Scottish government last year. Ministers at Holyrood said EU rules meant it had to open the process to competitive bids.


The Scottish government said CalMac had committed to retaining its pension scheme, and to a policy of no compulsory redundancies.


Its bid included 350 commitments to improve the service, including £6m investment in vessel and port improvements.


CalMac operates 31 vessels, which provide 135,585 sailings every year – an average of 371 sailings a day – to 24 island destinations and 50 ports.


Its ferries carried more than 4.6 million passengers last year, as well as 1.1 million cars, and 87,000 commercial vehicles.


Good Deal

Confirming CalMac as the preferred bidder, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the ferry company was “woven into the fabric of the communities they serve.”


“Their tender offers a good deal for those communities served by these vital transport links and ensures that we can maximise the opportunities to support and nurture our island economies,” she added.


She said the contract meant Scottish Ministers would retain control of all of important issues, such as fares and timetables, through the public service contract.


CalMac managing director Martin Dorchester also welcomed the announcement.


“We are proud to be given the opportunity to transform ferry passengers’ experience across the west coast of Scotland and to work closely with our partners to connect towns, cities and communities like never before,” he said.



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