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Iain Maciver: Clueless CalMac bosses don’t care about our islands

The mezzanine level on the MV Hebrides ferry requires higher numbers of staff (Photo: Arthur Campbell/Shutterstock)

The highly-paid executives running ferry company Caledonian MacBrayne seem to have finally taken leave of their senses.

After a difficult 18 months, passenger numbers are improving on routes like the Skye, Harris, North Uist triangular route served by MV Hebrides. Good news. Not so in CalMac’s eyes. Its management detests that ferry because of its moving floor. Really? They ought to pin down that linoleum.

No, it’s not the linoleum, it’s the mezzanine. A mezzanine is not the latest offering in the cafeteria, it’s the adjustable upstairs car ramp. Extra crew are needed to work it. A poor management that only cares about money, not service, hates that. So, now passenger numbers are up, CalMac wants to close the mezzanine to cut jobs. That will cut the number of vehicles that can be taken by a fifth.

That’s the solution from the finest brains in CalMac’s Gourock HQ. Shut it down. Even though it’s a lifeline service, that’s their answer. If ever anyone needed proof that CalMac management is broken and doesn’t care about the islands, that’s it right there.

Duncan Mackison, the chief executive of CalMac, used to be a Royal Marine. Thank you for your service, sir. Mr Mackison now runs our ferries. No thanks for your diabolically poor ferry service and being insensitive and uncaring about our islands’ needs. You should abide by the contract CalMac is signed up to. It requires you to fulfil it, or quit. It’s not going well so far, sir.

Time to rock the boat

Mr Mackison and his minions have a deliberate policy of having no Outer Isles representatives on CalMac’s board – not for years. Their biggest routes are here, but no islanders are allowed a seat. That’s atrocious management. Mr Mackison simply has no firsthand knowledge of how we feel about his rubbish decisions.

He doesn’t stray out of the GG – the Gourock-Grimsby bubble – the sounding boards of CalMac management. Hey, Mr Mackison, make it 3G. Add Geòcrab or Great Bernera and you may learn something.

There have been calls for transport minister Graeme Dey to get involved with the ongoing CalMac row (Photo: Kim Cessford/DCT Media)

Any good business manual will say that management that does not listen is bad management. The good news is that my advice is free to Mr Mackison. He should maybe read this column every week, of course. Hmm, The P&J may be difficult to get in Gourock. I’ll post him a copy today.

Meanwhile, Councillor Uisdean Robertson, our isles’ transport chairman and former CalMac employee, is fizzing. He rages that Mr Mackison’s plan is “unacceptable” and he’s asking transport minister Graeme Dey step in.

“Whether this cost falls on CalMac or Transport Scotland is immaterial to islanders who should rightly expect a lifeline ferry service contract to be maintained on the terms it was awarded,” said Mr Robertson. Go Uisdean, go rock the boat.

Clueless and careless

Other clueless people are world leaders who jetted in to COP26. They aren’t listening. How sad that the one thing that has done more for climate change than Greta Thunberg is Covid-19.

Some people who get Covid are careless. That’s the awkward truth we need to speak out about. They are so clueless they don’t understand they become carriers, taking it to vulnerable people, even if they themselves merely get sniffles.

The sharp rise in cases in the Western Isles – actually here on Lewis – is down to idiocy. Doctors should be allowed to be more critical because, privately, they are wondering what these dunderheids expect?

Boris Johnson was criticised recently for going without a face mask at COP26, particularly while sitting next to 95-year-old Sir David Attenborough (Photo: Jeff J Mitchell/PA Wire)

Halfwits go dancing without masks in packed and sweaty clubs, they go to football matches and to the bustling, crammed pubs afterwards, and then they go home and what happens? They infect their own kids and other family members. That’s why island schools are riddled with it. The idiots are sorry only when it’s eventually pinned on them for their brainless behaviour.

I was quite ignorant myself the other week – about Rishi Sunak’s budget. I missed the news about the small price rises, but it’s now affecting stock on the shelves. Tesco has just said it is putting up the price of the whisky I like tomorrow by a penny, to £20. Tonight, I’m going to party like it’s £19.99.

Not that I am not clueless about other things, too, sometimes. For instance, I was such a clueless first-time dad.

When our daughter was born, nearly 25 years ago, I picked her up for the first time and I looked at her, adoringly. Then I whispered to Mrs X: “This baby’s got bad breath already – and a runny nose.” Mrs X growled: “You’re holding her upside down.”

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