Only time will tell


Emboldened by the recent tendering process of the Gorouck to Dunoon ferry service, which created savings for the Scottish Government at the expense of local jobs, and brought about severe criticism from campaign groups, the SNP administration published its Draft Ferry Plan which earmarked five additional CalMac routes for privatisation, including the Wemyss Bay to Rothesay service.


And last week, after the repeated failure of the state owned ferry operator to provide assurances to employees about their plans, the union announced that it would ballot members over strike action.


Given our bitter experience locally, I fully understand and support the concerns of the CalMac work force.


Indeed, in a recent submission to Transport Scotland I expressed apprehension about the impact that the tendering of individual routes would have on jobs, pensions and terms and conditions of service, and I also sought assurances in regard to the future of the CalMac headquarters in Gorouck which employs 200 people.  


Moreover, I conveyed my concern, that CalMac are one of the few remaining sources of a high standard of maritime training and a stable career for seafarers in the local area, and to lose individual routes to the private sector would jeopardise this provision, and in so doing, undermine the maritime skills base and the opportunity for sustainable employment.



I sincerely hope that Keith Brown the Transport Minister will listen to the many voices urging him to resist the temptation of the short-term savings that privatisation seems to offer, and instead come down on the side of jobs, employment rights and quality of service.


Only time will tell.