Impact of ferries strike discussed
RMT urged to return to talks
Ministers have chaired a second meeting of the Scottish Government's resilience team ahead of industrial action which will impact on CalMac ferry services.
The RMT has announced its intention to undertake industrial action tomorrow, Thursday and Friday - two days of work to rule followed by a full strike on Friday.
Ministers are speaking to the RMT this afternoon to urge them to call off the action and return to talks. However in the interim CalMac and Transport Scotland have made contact with bus, rail and aviation operators to see what additional services can be provided to help mitigate the impact if the strike does go ahead, as looks highly likely at this stage.
CalMac currently predict that the majority of services will run on Wednesday and Thursday, but they expect disruption on Friday with major vessel routes serving the Western Isles, Mull, Islay, Bute, Arran, Coll and Tiree expected to be severely affected, and only supported by smaller vessels in most cases.
CalMac have already started the process of contacting customers and updating their website to highlight the likely disruption on Friday. CalMac have also been liaising with hauliers, coach operators and local tourist bodies to put the dispute into context and raise awareness of alternative options: https://www.calmac.co.uk/service-changes/rmt-industrial-action-26062015
Discussions with VisitScotland, the Scottish Tourism Alliance and Scottish Government officials are taking place to discuss what more can be done to bolster consumer confidence going forward, and also to raise awareness that the areas affected remain open for business during any action.
Speaking after updating Cabinet colleagues and chairing a second resilience meeting in two days, Deputy First Minister John Swinney said:
"Ministers are speaking to Calmac and the RMT this afternoon to urge them to call off the action and return to talks. I would urge both parties to continue discussions in an effort to reach an agreement that avoids damaging strike action.
"CalMac have issued more detailed information on their website and are speaking to their customers directly. We are all working together to try and minimise the impact of this industrial action at a crucial time for the islands’ economies that are served by these lifeline services.”
Transport Minister Derek Mackay said:
"I have already provided assurances that a fair, affordable and sustainable pension scheme will be protected under the new Clyde & Hebrides Ferry Services contract.
"EU law requires the Scottish Government to tender ferry services. This was accepted by previous Governments when it initiated the first tendering exercise for CHFS, it is therefore regrettable that some are seeking to use the current situation to score political points.
"A record £1 billion has already been invested on port infrastructure, vessels and ferry services from 2007 to date, and we are determined to build on this track record. We have made clear our commitment to ensuring the continued delivery of safe and reliable services for ferry users.
"In the interim Calmac and my officials at Transport Scotland have made contact with bus, rail and aviation operators to see what additional services can be provided during this week's industrial action and we stand ready to support the Islands during this testing time."