A campaign by the RMT union hopes to protect CalMac for the people it serves – and its workers.
Calling for more protection for the government-owned company, union representatives said CalMac’s board to be reconfigured to reflect the people the lifeline ferries serve.
During a day of action in Oban, the union claimed the board was made up of “faceless executives” and raised concern the “bandit owners” want to “take away all the money-making CalMac routes”.
Transport Minister Jenny Gilruth has said she was keen to meet with the unions.
The campaign, People’s CalMac was launched today, with union reps calling for a “publicly owned lifeline ferry service that we can all be proud of”.
Brian Reynolds, CalMac organiser for the RMT Union, said: “We are here in Oban today because we are seriously concerned about the report commissioned by Transport Scotland called the Neptune Project.
Project ‘might promote the privatisation of the unbundling of routes’
“It might, and it is a might, promote privatisation of the unbundling of routes. We would be totally opposed to that.
“We are calling for greater involvement with unions at board level and with community groups at board level.”
He called on the Scottish Government to be more transparent in the way in which it deal with the board.
He said “We are calling for more funding from Transport Scotland to protect what we have.
“You will have seen in the press this week the bandit gangster capitalists who have no concern for worker and only concerned about shareholders.
“After the comments they have made about P&O this week, we hope they will be opposed to what would happen on Scotland’s lifeline ferry routes.
He added: “We need a guarantee that this will not happen on Scotland’s lifeline ferry routes.
‘No more tendering for CalMac services’
“Instead of regular tendering for the service we want the ferry service to be confirmed as the provider, and we want the huge amount of money that would have gone into tendering to be spent on the fleet and the staff.”
Graham Wallace, the secretary of the RMT Glasgow ferry workers branch, said: “CalMac should continue to be a publicly-owned company and it should be protected as such.
“CalMac workers never want to find themselves in the same scenario as the P&O workers and the union is working to protect that.”
Calling for a change in the way the CalMac board is structured, Gordon Martin, the RMT officer in charge of Scotland, said: “At the moment the board has faceless executive and are not responsible to the people the union serves.
“We want the board to represent the workers, the islands and the ports that serve the CalMac fleet.
“We want CMal – who own the ferry fleet to be disbanded – and we want everything to be brought into line – to make the People’s CalMac something we can all be proud of.”
Independent review will ‘enhance passenger experience’
A Transport Scotland spokesman said: “We agree that Scotland’s ferries should not be privatised, which is why Scottish ministers have already ruled that out – with no plans to split up the CalMac Ferries network.
“The independent review of governance arrangements [the Neptune Project] for Scottish Government lifeline ferry services will present a range of options to the overarching objective of effective, efficient and economic delivery of lifeline ferry services, to enhance passenger experience and support local island economies.
“Ministers recognise there is a need to better incorporate islander voices in this regard, as the RMT’s campaign calls for, and the transport minister would be happy to meet with RMT on this matter – recognising the difficulties island communities have been facing in recent weeks’ due to service disruption.
“The Scottish Government has committed to £580million in the infrastructure investment plan and it is vital that this funding provides the vessels of the future, as soon as is feasibly possible, to build greater resilience in the CalMac fleet to better meet islanders needs.”
Calmac has been approached for comment.
To sign a petition launched by the union click here.