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SIC - Free Tyre Check - 22 Nov 2019

Transport / Union backs Calmac bid

TRANSPORT union RMT has encouraged the Scottish Government to award the next Northern Isles ferry contract to Calmac.

The company, which is effectively owned by the government, is one of three companies in the bidding for the £370 million contract.

The RMT said the recent transfer of the Argyll Ferries contract for the Gourock to Dunoon route to the publicly owned Calmac – instead of it being tendered – was a “victory for union members and the ongoing campaign to end profiteering and uncertainty on Scottish Ferry services”.

Transport Scotland decided to incorporate the Argyll Ferries service into the existing Clyde and Hebrides ferry service contract, held by Calmac, at the end of last year.

General secretary Mick Cash said: “Direct awards of public ferry contracts to [Calmac holding company] David MacBrayne, Scotland’s publicly owned ferry company, are to be encouraged and we hope that ministers follow this logic on the Northern Isles contract recently put out to tender.”

Calmac is up against current holders Serco and a third bidder in the fight for the eight-year lifeline ferry contract.

Responding to criticism from Shetland MSP Tavish Scott this week over the tendering process, Transport Scotland said it believes the “tender will deliver the best possible ferry service that meets the needs of the communities of Shetland and provide value for money to the taxpayer”.

The Scottish Government was keen to take the Northern Isles ferry contract in-house but after consultation it decided to continue to put it out to tender.

The contract is expected to be awarded in July.