Circular No: NP/048/18
TO ALL BRANCHES & REGIONAL COUNCILS.
Our Ref: S2/1/2/3
1st March 2018
Nationalise NorthLink – Public Meeting Shetland 16th March 2018
Further to circular No.013/18 of 24th January 2018, I can confirm that the RMT’s next Nationalise NorthLink public meeting will take place in Lerwick on:
Friday 16th March, at the Shetland Hotel (St. Catherine Suite South) Holmsgarth Road, Lerwick, ZE1 0PW, from 19.00
The list of invited speakers is as follows:
Humza Yousaf MSP (Minister for Transport & the Islands) (tbc)
Tavish Scott MSP (Lib Dem, Shetland Isles) (tbc)
Shetland Constituency Labour Party Member (tbc)
Gordon Martin, RMT Regional Organiser
Your union will again put the positive case to the public on the Shetland Islands for nationalising NorthLink. Residents and businesses on Shetland are heavily reliant on lifeline ferry connections to the mainland and between the islands for their social and economic well-being. All local members are strongly encouraged to attend and to show their support for the union’s Nationalise NorthLink campaign.
We have called this public meeting in response to 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 all public contracts for Scottish ferry services permanently in-house was not well supported on Orkney or Shetland.
Despite this view, RMT’s public meeting on Orkney in February was successful in increasing public support for the union’s position on public ownership and operation of publicly subsidised lifeline ferry services for Orkney and the Northern Isles.
RMT’s next public meeting will be a vital opportunity to make the case again for public ownership and operation of the NIFS contract, directly to Shetlanders, and to provide evidence of the need to Nationalise NorthLink now.
Serco have overseen a decline in performance, total passenger numbers and freight movements whilst receiving significantly higher subsidy and higher fare revenues, compared to the previous, public-sector operator. Despite this, the Minister announced an 18-month extension of the existing NIFS contract, to October 2019. The Transport Minister has again been invited to share this platform for public debate of the issues with other politicians and the RMT.
Your union is also calling for the next NIFS contract to be re-drawn by Transport Scotland to include inter-island services currently funded and provided by Shetland Islands Council. We will strongly support this reform during the public meeting and beyond, whether or not the Scottish Government puts the next NIFS contract out to tender.
The Nationalise NorthLink petition has received over 1,130 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: https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/nationalise-northlink-ferries-1
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.