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Progress in CalMac ferries dispute

23 August 2013

After a concerted campaign by members and reps including political lobbying, media work and a strike threat, negotiations with Caledonian Macbrayne have seen significant progress.

The dispute centres on a plan to harmonise terms and conditions which could have seen some staff facing a 25 per cent pay cut.

Ferries are an essential part of Scotland’s transport network, supporting business, tourism and employment opportunities and providing access to schools and healthcare for island communities which would rapidly become unsustainable without the service.

Caledonian MacBrayne’s 26 routes across the Clyde and Hebrides are hugely valued by those they serve, yet proposals made last December made the firm’s outport clerks feel anything but valued.

In an attempt to harmonise terms and conditions, significant pay disparities were found. Whilst understandable that management would want to address this, a highly inflexible approach was taken with a group of staff who would be disproportionately affected. Outport clerks, who are mainly women, were left facing a pay cut of up to 25 per cent.

After repeated attempts to dissuade CalMac from withdrawing overtime payments and shift supplements, TSSA took the matter to Scottish Parliament with members raising their anguish directly with MSPs. TSSA won the backing of the STUC and Scottish Labour Party in calling for CalMac to withdraw their proposals and agree a negotiated settlement. With strike action threatened, media and political pressure ultimately led to the managing director meeting TSSA’s general secretary.

Robust talks followed, with reps Carol Ann Baxter (Largs) and Alison Gamet-MacIndoe (Colintraive) being supported by senior regional organiser Doug Blundell. These resulted in improved buyouts for overtime and annual leave bonus payments (four times the annual loss) and the retention of shift supplements payments – a significant step forward from the original proposals.

TSSA remains concerned about the future of CalMac and how the Scottish Government’s re-tendering process will impact upon our members. We need more trained reps across the ports tio ensure we win the best deal.7

If you’d like to find out more about getting involved, email

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