CalMac ferry workers take anti-Serco takeover protest to Scottish Parliament

CalMac ferry workers take anti-Serco takeover protest to Scottish Parliament
The National, by Janice Burns


Ferry workers are heading for the Scottish Parliament today as they launch their Keep CalMac Public campaign to stop rival firm Serco being awarded the contract to run the Clyde and Hebrides service.


RMT union members and supporters will stage a lobby and debate at the Parliament to demand that the lifeline ferries be retained in public ownership.


The lobby coincides with a debate on the tender process for the services which could see the private firm Serco taking over from the public sector operator CalMac despite public opposition.


RMT will also be stepping up their campaign which claims Serco are “the specialists in failure”, which they say is based on their “appalling track record” in public services.


RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: “The fight is now on to save CalMac’s lifeline Clyde and Hebrides services from being snatched away by Serco – the specialists in failure. The idea that this company are fit to run our public services is ridiculous and the truth is that they shouldn’t even be in the frame for these ferry routes.


“RMT continues to press for the tendering timetable to be sharpened up to allow for an announcement before the elections next year so that the public can judge the merits of any decision for themselves. There is no excuse for delaying the announcement which has huge implications for the communities which rely on these ferry services.”


RMT national secretary Steve Todd, who will be at the lobby, added: “We will be taking our message direct to the Scottish Parliament that there are no grounds whatsoever for letting an outfit like Serco anywhere near the Clyde and Hebrides ferry services.


“Their charge sheet is as long as your arm and that dismal record of failure should be automatic grounds for exclusion from this tendering process which is costly, destabilising and unnecessary.


“RMT will continue to mobilise around this high-profile campaign to keep Calmac public.”


A spokesperson for Serco issued the following statement:


"No matter which competitor wins, Calmac will stay in public ownership.  We look forward to submitting our bid in 2016."