MARITIME UNION RMT today demanded a public inquiry into the privatisation of the NorthLink ferries contract in 2012 after the Shetland Times revealed that the public sector bid – tabled by CalMac, and thought to be cheaper than Serco who won the contract – was returned unopened.
RMT General Secretary Mick Cash said:
“It is no surprise that CalMac’s bid would have been cheaper than Serco’s – the SNP Government whacked up the public subsidy to Serco by nearly £40m (around 20%) when it privatised the contract in May 2012, allowing Serco to trumpet to the London Stock Exchange the winning of a £350m contract for Northern Isles ferry services.
“For Transport Scotland to have been found treating the public sector bid with such blatant contempt will not go down well with those seafarers who were made redundant following Serco’s take over, not to mention their colleagues who would have seen their pensions raided had Serco not backed down when faced with RMT’s intention to take industrial action over members’ pensions.”
National Secretary Steve Todd added:
“RMT members working for CalMac will be very concerned to learn of the Scottish Government’s instinctive contempt for public sector bids, this news coming, as it does, around a month before the Invitation to Tender for the 2016-24 Clyde and Hebrides ferries contract. Transport Scotland continue to stall over the detail of pension and employment protections that will be in the ITT, despite the best efforts of the CalMac unions and the STUC.
” There is a growing feeling that Transport Scotland and the Scottish Government are heading, full steam to privatising Clyde and Hebrides ferries services, with the winning bid being announced after the Scottish Parliamentary elections in May 2016.
“We hope the Scottish Government does not continue to head down the Blairite route of privatising public services but the revelations over their treatment of CalMac’s NorthLink bid does not bode well for Scottish ferry workers and the lifeline services they provide remote communities and passengers.”