Ferry operator CalMac has expressed dismay and disappointment over the RMT union’s decision to move into dispute with the company over pay.

Negotiations between the company and the RMT broke down after their failure to consider a new, above public sector average pay deal.

CalMac Ferries Ltd, managing director, Martin Dorchester said: "We are very disappointed that the RMT have taken this decision after we worked so hard together to win the new eight year contract to run the Clyde and Hebrides Ferry Service contract.

"The offer on the table of 1.8% is nearly double recent average public sector pay increases. This is an extremely generous pay offer in the current climate of tight public sector budget restraint. 

"Any moves to disrupt services would be a huge let down for all the people who rely on our services and who backed CalMac staff so vocally and enthusiastically during the tendering process.

"I would urge trade union members to think carefully about the damage any potential industrial action will have on the communities they serve and are part of. This is a road no one wants to go down just as we are about to start rolling out new innovations that will improve services for all over the long term."

Mr Dorchester said that the company's door was always open and urged the RMT to continue to negotiate to reach an agreement.