CalMac awarded contract for Clyde and Hebrides Ferry Services (CHFS)

Circular No: NP/0147/16


Our Ref: S2/1/4

19th May 2016

Dear Colleague,

CalMac awarded contract for Clyde and Hebrides Ferry Services (CHFS)

Further to circular No.079/16 of 3rd March 2016, the Scottish Government this morning announced that the next CHFS contract has been awarded to the incumbent public sector operator, Caledonian MacBrayne for up to eight years from October this year.

This is a major victory for the union and its members, in what is a successful defence of publicly owned and operated lifeline ferry services from privatisation. The Scottish Government has accepted the union’s arguments over the broader social and economic benefits of lifeline ferry services in the west of Scotland remaining in the public sector with CalMac. It is also a complete vindication of RMT members’ decision to take industrial action in June last year which secured meaningful employment and pension protections in the contract put out to tender by the Scottish Government in July.

The union worked in tandem with the other CalMac unions and the STUC to defend and promote the public sector bid during this unnecessary and expensive tender process. This is a further source of encouragement for the future defence of public sector Scottish ferry services.

Negotiations can now continue with CalMac over pensions and whilst the union is under no illusions as to the need for reforms to the governance structure at CalMac and ferry procurement policy, the fact that the bid from Serco was rejected should give all RMT members encouragement in the ongoing struggle against privatisation across the transport industry.

It should also be noted that with CalMac winning the contract, the public sector commitment to investing in maritime skills in Scotland will continue with CalMac now free to continue its programme of recruiting new ratings and cadets into the ferry industry.

The union will also step up the campaign to secure an exemption for all publicly contracted Scottish ferry services from the damaging and pro-private EC regulation which demand regular tendering of these lifeline public services.

I would be grateful if you could bring the content of this circular to all members in your Branch.

Yours sincerely


Mick Cash
General Secretary