Labour's Shadow Transport Minister, David Stewart, MSP for the Highlands and Islands, quizzed the Scottish Government yesterday on how it plans to respond to the concerns of the CalMac ferry services workforce, who recently balloted for strike action.
Last week members of the RMT Union voted overwhelmingly for both strike action and action short of a strike in a ballot over jobs, pensions and working conditions.
The vote conducted by the Union revealed over 92% voted for strike action and 98% for action short of a strike on a 60% turnout. 55% of the total number eligible to vote voted yes for strike action and 58% of total eligible voted yes for action short of a strike.
Mr Stewart expressed his concern to the Minister saying: “90% of those who voted backed calls for industrial action and I have genuine and heartfelt sympathy for the workers involved, the Scottish Government owe it to these workers to resolve this dispute.”
Mr Stewart continued: “Does the Scottish Government share the view of the RMT general secretary Mick Cash who said “RMT members on CalMac rightly feel that they are caught in the crossfire of an unnecessary and damaging tendering battle that leaves jobs, conditions and pensions hanging by a thread.” ? Surely the Scottish Government has learnt from the fiasco of the Northern Isles ferry routes, where Serco cut crossings and axed jobs.”
Speaking later, Mr Stewart said: “The results of the RMT strike action ballot was overwhelmingly in favour of taking industrial action, something everyone involved would like to see adverted if possible. This is a crucial issue and the Scottish Government can not stand on the side-lines.
“The Scottish Government need to respond clearly and quickly to address this deteriorating situation to not only secure jobs, condition, pay and pensions for the Cal Mac workforce, but also to address the concerns of many islanders rightly worried about the continuity of lifeline ferry services for our islands and also the concerns being expressed by the business community who rely on these vital ferry services.”