Circular No: NP/013/18
TO ALL BRANCHES & REGIONAL COUNCILS.
Our Ref: S2/1/2/3
24th January 2018
Nationalise NorthLink – Public Meeting Orkney 7th February 2018
Further to circular No.002/18 of 4th January 2018, I can confirm that the RMT’s Nationalise NorthLink public meeting in Kirkwall on 7th February will go ahead as previously indicated, on:
Wednesday 7th February, at the Ayre Hotel, Ayre Road, Kirkwall KW15 1QX from 19.30 - 22.00
Please note that the previous list of speakers no longer applies, due to business in the Scottish Parliament and Serco NorthLink’s refusal to participate.
Therefore, the union will put the positive case for nationalising NorthLink directly to the public on the Orkney Islands, whose livelihoods are heavily reliant on lifeline ferry connections to the mainland and between the islands themselves. All local members are strongly encouraged to attend and to show their support for the union’s campaign.
The union has 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 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.
I repeat that this public meeting is a vital opportunity to make the case for public ownership and operation of the NIFS contract directly to Orcadians, 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 has announced an 18-month extension of the existing NIFS contract, to October 2019.
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 local councils, including our members on Orkney Ferries. 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 1,120 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
We will also be calling a public meeting on 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, venue and speakers.
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.
Circular No: NP/013/18