Circular No: NP/0236/19
TO ALL SHIPPING BRANCHES & REGIONAL COUNCILS.
Our Ref: S2/1/2/3
30th October 2019
Further to Circular No. NP/0167/19 of 20th September 2019, the Scottish Government has announced that Serco’s existing contract for Northern Isles Ferry Services (NIFS) has been extended by three months until 31st January 2020.
The Scottish Government say that they have made this decision in light of further correspondence from the European Commission in relation to Pentland Ferries ‘ongoing complaint’ against the use of public subsidy on the Orkney routes in the NIFS contract.
As a result of this extension, the next NIFS contract between the Scottish Government and Serco has still not been signed. After a public ferry contract is awarded by the Scottish Government, a standstill period is customary but usually only lasts a maximum of ten days. It is now over a month since the Scottish Government decided to award the next contract to Serco.
Details of the tender process for the next NIFS contract have also emerged that raise serious questions over the Scottish Government’s handling of this process. Bids for the contract were assessed on a weighted basis – 65% on cost and 35% on quality. The public sector bid by David MacBrayne for the NIFS contract was successful on cost but lost on quality to the private bid.
It is bad enough that Pentland Ferries are getting away with a direct and costly legal attack on the concept of publicly funded and operated lifeline ferry services in Scotland. On top of this, Transport Scotland appear to have bent over backwards to avoid nationalising NorthLink services and have insulted public sector ferry workers, including RMT members in the process.
Your union is pursuing these matters vigorously, through MSPs in the Parliamentary Group and other channels.
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.