Union bosses and CalMac have gone head-to-head over strike action – and the north’s air traffic controllers are locked in a pay dispute.
Strike action by CalMac ferry workers is looking possible as the RMT Union ramps up pressure on the public body to enter talks about a pay dispute.
Meanwhile air traffic staff in the Highlands could also take industrial action amid “overwhelming” opposition to plans for centralisation.
RMT union has knocked back a pay offer of 0.5% and is now urging CalMac to join talks with the arbitration and conciliation service.
However the ferry company says it has made a reasonable offer.
Robbie Drummond, managing director of CalMac, said: “We have made a fair and reasonable offer to staff reflecting the cost of living. We remain open to dialogue with our four unions at any stage.”
ACAS contacted Scotland’s biggest ferry union following news of the trade dispute.
RMT Union agreed to work with the service in the hope of coming to an agreement but a spokesman for the union said: “Unfortunately CalMac have rejected the services of ACAS and seem determined to stick with their intransigent position of refusing to recognise that their hard working loyal staff deserve an acceptable pay offer in recognition of their risking their own health and safety during the Covid- 19 pandemic to keep Scotland’s west coast island communities supplied with essential goods.”
Gordon Martin, regional organiser for RMT, said: “If they don’t agree to go to ACAS we will have no option but to instigate a ballot of industrial action for our members. That is the last thing we want to do when people are struggling. But we all need CalMac to recognise that if it wasn’t for our members keeping the ferries and ports going, our islands would be in chaos at the moment.”
RMT general Secretary Mick Cash said: “It’s extremely disappointing and unfortunate that CalMac will not engage in a meaningful and productive manner to find a mutually agreeable solution to this dispute.
“I have informed the company that my union remains available for talks to avert any dispute and despite this they rejected the offer from ACAS to get involved and work with all parties to lift the potential of a dispute that would be damaging to the local economy and bring unnecessary additional stress and pressure to the islanders.
“I would urge the senior management at CalMac to get back round the negotiating table in an honest attempt to reach a settlement. If this means they need to make the justifiable case to the Scottish Government to reach agreement on a fair and reasonable pay award for their workforce then they need to get on and do exactly that.”
A spokesman for Transport Scotland 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.”
Highlands and Islands Airports Limited (Hial) announced proposals to merge operations for seven of its airfields and run them remotely from Inverness in 2018.
But two years on, union Prospect says the “vast majority” of its members are not in favour of the move – and could resort to striking over it.
They have instead called for a modernisation programme which would keep all jobs at their current bases, without the potential need for relocation.