Nationalise NorthLink – Public Meeting Orkney 7th February 2018

Circular No: NP/002/18


Our Ref: S2/1/2/3

4th January 2018

Dear Colleagues

Nationalise NorthLink – Public Meeting Orkney 7th February 2018

Further to circular No.222/17 of 21st December 2017, following the Scottish Government’s announcement of its interim findings from the Ferry Law Review, your union has called a public meeting on Orkney to advance the aims of the Nationalise NorthLink campaign.

This important public meeting on the future of lifeline ferry services to and between the Orkneys will be held:

Wednesday 7th February, at the Ayre Hotel, Ayre Road, Kirkwall KW15 1QX from 19.00 - 22.00 (meeting will start 19.30).

The following speakers have been invited:

Humza Yousaf MSP – Minister for Transport & Islands
Liam McArthur MSP – Orkney (Lib Dem)
Cllr James Stockan – Leader, Orkney Islands Council (Independent)
David Stewart MSP – Highland & Islands (Labour)
John Finnie MSP – Highland & Islands (Green)
Stuart Garrett – Managing Director, Serco NorthLink Ferries
Gordon Martin – RMT Regional Organiser

A public meeting is being called in light of the Scottish Government’s announcement that it will decide by Spring 2018 whether or not to re-tender the next Northern Isles Ferry Services (NIFS) contract. The Transport Minister, Humza Yousaf told MSPs before Christmas that the legal case for bringing the Clyde and Hebrides Ferry Services contract permanently in-house is strong but that local opposition to CalMac weakens the case for bringing the NIFS contract permanently back into public operation.

As a result, this public meeting is a vital opportunity to make the case for public ownership and operation of the NIFS contract by a subsidiary of David MacBrayne and to convince local people and politicians of the need to Nationalise NorthLink now. It is a fact that Serco have overseen a decline in performance, passenger numbers and freight movements whilst receiving a significantly higher subsidy compared to the previous operator.

Your union also firmly believes that the next NIFS contract should be re-drawn by Transport Scotland to include inter-island services currently funded and provided by local councils, including our members on Orkney Ferries. Your union will strongly support this reform during the public meeting and beyond, whatever the Scottish Government’s ultimate decision is on the need to tender the next NIFS contract.

The Nationalise NorthLink petition has received over 1,100 signatures and remains live. RMT members and activists, particularly those with friends and family on the Orkneys or across the NorthLink network are encouraged to sign it:

We will also be calling a public meeting for Shetland to discuss the future of the NIFS contract and inter-island ferry services, before the Scottish Government’s final decision. You will be kept updated and given as much notice as possible of the date and venue.

I would be grateful if you could bring the content of this circular to all members in your Branch and you will be updated with further developments.

Yours sincerely


Mick Cash
General Secretary