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CalMac Bulletin Number 14

24 January 2012

1) Scottish Government Ferries Review:

At the close of 2011 the Scottish government finally published its “Scottish Ferry Services Draft Plan for Consultation”. A copy of the review is available at:

Much of the document – over 30% of it – is given over to detailed proposals about the future of the individual ferry-service routes and the frequency of services on each of those routes.

The document also contains a number of specific commitments to improve accessibility (e.g. for people with restricted mobility, cognitive impairment, etc.), fairly specific proposals about fares, and general commitments on environmental issues.

But despite the length of the document, and also despite the length of time it has taken to produce it, some of the issues most fundamental to the future of Scottish ferry services remain in need of further clarification.

The document says nothing about the government’s policy on the procurement of ferry services: “We will publish a separate policy statement on our future approach to ferries procurement.”

The document is also vague about the funding of any changes to ferry services: “The timing and funding of any changes is yet to be agreed. In the Final Ferries Plan we will provide more precise details about how we will prioritise each of the proposals to be taken forward.”

And although the document states that the Scottish government is “willing to be responsible for all ‘lifeline’ ferry services in Scotland,” this is promptly hedged in by a number of qualifications:

- Being “responsible” for services simply means that no community should feel vulnerable about the longer-term future of their service, “regardless of who provides it.”

- Before taking responsibility for any route, the Scottish government would “first assess its ‘lifeline’ characteristics” by measuring the route against a number of criteria (e.g. needs of community, alternative routes available, etc.) in order to decide whether it counts as a ‘lifeline’ service.
- In relation to services currently run by the private sector, the Scottish government’s “involvement or ‘responsibility’ will be limited to getting involved only where the private sector fails to deliver an adequate service.”

The document is very clear, however, about the supposed benefits of ‘less prescriptive’ tenders: “A less prescriptive specification at the tender stage can result in ferry operators being more willing to bid to run the services. This approach will allow operators the flexibility to innovate and reduce costs where possible.”

(But the most obvious area which operators will target for “reducing costs” will be: rates of pay and other terms and conditions of employment.)

The document is equally clear in stating that the government’s intention is to ensure that “the level of income generated (from pier and harbour dues) wholly covers the cost of the ongoing maintenance and repairs of their (CMAL’s) piers and harbours.” This would remove the need for the current Scottish government subsidy for developing and maintaining harbours.

The TSSA has written to Transport Scotland seeking clarification of some of the above points.

The deadline for responses to the consultation document is 30th March. The address to which responses should be sent is at page two of the document, which also includes a link to an online questionnaire.

The TSSA intends responding to the document through the STUC and in conjunction with other unions recognised by CalMac. If any member has any comments for inclusion in the TSSA’s response, please e-mail:

Members are also encouraged to respond directly to the consultation document themselves, especially in relation to the document’s specific proposals for each of Scotland’s ferry routes – the persons best placed for commenting on those proposals are those who work on those routes and/or live in the communities served by them.

2) Trade Union Recognition:

The last-but-one circular referred to the fact that CalMac had inserted into the employment contract of any Port Manager appointed since 2005 a clause stating that they were not covered by collective bargaining – despite the fact that Calmac and the TSSA had signed a collective bargaining agreement for Port Managers in 1999.

CalMac has refused to budge on this issue, despite it having been made clear to the company that Port Managers – including ones appointed since 2005 – are happy to be represented collectively by the TSSA. 

With the Christmas/New Year break now out of the way, the matter is being further pursued with Port Managers who are TSSA members. So too is a recruitment initiative directed at managers in CalMac head offices who are not currently covered by any collective bargaining agreement.

3) Equalities Review:

As part of last year’s pay deal last year, CalMac agreed to review relevant equalities
and anti-discrimination policies in conjunction with the TSSA.

This is order to ensure that they conform with current legislation (i.e. the Equality Act 2010, which has brought all previous anti-discrimination laws into a single piece of legislation, as well as strengthening the law in a number of respects) and also with best practice.

The joint review is likely to cover policies/practices relating to issues such as recruitment, family-friendly policies, equal opportunities, support for persons with disabilities, etc.

Unfortunately, since agreement was reached on the pay deal, no progress has been made in commencing this review. The TSSA has written to CalMac suggesting what areas such a review might cover and asking for copies of the most up-to-date versions of the relevant policies.

4) Pay Deal:

Apologies for not having circulated the results of the ballot on the company’s pay offer before now. Over 55% of members returned ballot papers. Just over 95% voted in favour of the offer. Slightly under 5% voted to reject it. (There were no spoiled ballot papers.) The company was informed of the outcome of the ballot on 29th November, prior to the end-of-November deadline set by the company.

5) TSSA-RMT Talks:

Some members have asked for an update on discussions between the TSSA and the RMT about the possibility of a closer working relationship between the two unions, including a possible merger.

Talks have continued to take place. Summaries of the meetings, jointly agreed by the TSSA and the RMT, have been posted on the TSSA (and RMT) website.

Should the talks result in a proposal for the creation of a new union involving the TSSA and the RMT, the TSSA national conference would be required to approve a ballot of the entire membership, and all members would have a vote in that ballot. (The RMT would need to go through a similar process.)

6) Reps’ Vacancies:

Vacancies remain for TSSA reps for clerical staff. If you are interested in becoming a rep, please contact: Paid release for training and support from TSSA staff in the union’s Scotland region office are available for all reps.

7) Scottish TUC 2012 Annual Congress:

This will be taking place in Inverness in mid-April. The TSSA Scotland Region has submitted the following motion about the future of Scottish ferry services:

“Congress condemns the previous and current SNP Scottish governments for their approach to Scottish ferry services:

- The Scottish Ferries Review, set up in 2008 and due to have published its findings by summer 2010, but which is still ongoing.

- The Review’s waste of public money by commissioning reports from private consultants who had their own pro-privatisation agenda.

- The SNP’s failure to fulfil its 2007 promise to order two new car-and-passenger ferries for the Gourock-Dunoon route.

- The job losses, pay cuts and poorer quality of ferry service resulting from the SNP government’s tendering of the Gourock-Dunoon service.

- The hypocrisy of the SNP in attacking Labour-Lib-Dem coalition governments for putting ferry services out to tender, and then itself putting services out to tender once elected.

- The failure of the current SNP Scottish government to rule out the ‘debundling’ of ferry routes.

Congress also expresses its concern at the fact that the Scottish Ferry Services Draft Plan for Consultation, published in December of 2011, says nothing about the SNP government’s policies on the procurement of ferry services, nor about the government’s policy on the funding of such services.

Congress re-affirms its opposition to the tendering of ferry services.

Congress therefore pledges support for campaigning – including industrial action and political campaigning targeted at individual SNP MSPS – in opposition to any:

-  tendering of ferry services by the Scottish government;

-  ‘debundling’ of ferry services and opening up of ferry services to the private sector;

-  deterioration in the quality of provision of ferry services;

-  attacks on the jobs and terms and conditions of the CalMac workforce.

Congress further calls on the Scottish Labour Party to support trade union campaigning, inside and outside of Holyrood, in defence of ferry services.”

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