Ferry workers will be balloted for industrial action shortly after pay talks with CalMac collapsed.
The RMT, Scotland’s largest ferry union, blamed Scottish government interference for the failure to reach an agreement.
The union said the company’s “derisory” pay offer is a “serious kick in the teeth” after staff have been working throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.
Two previous rounds of pay negotiations have been held and an avoidance of disputes meeting was held yesterday with RMT, other unions and CalMac to try to resolve the situation.
RMT said it will write to the company to tell them formally they are in dispute and members will then be balloted as soon as possible.
RMT General Secretary Mick Cash said: “Our negotiators have tried over a series of meetings to get a cost of living award for essential lifeline ferry workers and despite their best efforts again today the CalMac managing director has given the same response as his management colleagues have issued from the first meeting on October 7.
“It’s become increasingly apparent that Transport Scotland and the Scottish Government are putting pressure on CalMac to hold a line which will see our members financially disadvantaged. This is not acceptable to RMT and we will be balloting our members to secure financial fairness for members and their families in these uncertain times.”
Robbie Drummond, CalMac Managing Director, said: “CalMac has suffered significant and unprecedented financial pressures due to Covid-19 and it is likely that these will continue to have an impact for some time.
Despite this, we are committed to rewarding staff in recognition of their determination to provide a high quality and safe lifeline service during an extremely difficult period.
“We are thankful for the support from Transport Scotland under our contract, which has enabled us to protect every job during the pandemic and to provide furloughed employees 100% of their pay. We also took steps to ensure that their safety and wellbeing was well protected.
“This pay offer is the same as the current rate of inflation and is being made with our staff in mind – providing a fair and generous offer in the current circumstances. This offer ensures the best possible route for us all going forward as we get through the pandemic together.”
A Transport Scotland spokeswoman said: “CalMac pay policy sits outside the coverage of the Scottish Government’s pay policy and, as such, this is a matter for CalMac and the unions concerned.
“We would urge management and unions to continue to engage in meaningful dialogue to reach a mutually agreeable outcome that avoids impacting staff and ferry users at an already difficult time for communities served by CalMac.”