Trade Dispute with Caledonian MacBrayne and Argyll Ferries

Circular No: NP/133/15


Our Ref: S2/1/4

23rd July 2015

Dear Colleague,

Trade Dispute with Caledonian MacBrayne and Argyll Ferries

Further to circular No.101/15 of 29th May 2015, following constructive talks between your union, the company and the Scottish Government, RMT’s trade disputes with CalMac and Argyll Ferries have been resolved.

On the points of the dispute, the union’s negotiating team successfully extracted the following commitments from CalMac and the Transport Minister, Derek Mackay MSP.

On job security, CalMac agreed to include a commitment to no compulsory redundancies in their bid for the 2016-24 CHFS contract and to insert a statement into the Collective Bargaining Agreement, covering your contract of employment, that there will be no compulsory redundancies and no changes to staffing or manning levels without agreement being reached with your Union and other CalMac unions.

The Scottish Government has also confirmed in writing to the union their “...intention to obtain a no compulsory redundancy guarantee from the [CHFS] bidders during the tendering process.”

CalMac’s amendment to the CBA will also include a commitment to no changes to terms and conditions of employment, including pay will be made without full consultation and agreement being reached with recognised trade unions, including RMT. If no agreement can be reached, all parties to the CBA are committed to seek non-binding arbitration. The CalMac CBA would TUPE over in the event of another operator being awarded the contract.

In addition, the Scottish Government has agreed to include in the Invitation to Tender (ITT) a subsidy clawback which would reduce public subsidy to the operator in line with any savings made from redundancies or other changes in staffing costs over the life of the next contract.

On pensions, the Scottish Government will also include in the ITT an unconditional contractual requirement for the winning bidder for the CHFS 2016-24 contract to become a participating employer in the CalMac Pension Fund. The ITT will be published on 31st July.

Members should also be aware that the results of the standard, three yearly actuarial valuation of the CalMac Pension Fund are due. The results of the last valuation of the scheme, dated March 2012 indicated a deficit of £32m. Both the Scottish Government and CalMac believe that the deficit has increased since then. We expect to receive the updated valuation from the actuaries in August and we will discuss the implications of their findings with our sister unions and the employer, in line with standard practice. You will be kept fully informed and consulted about your union’s discussion of CalMac Pension Fund valuation.

We have also pressed the Scottish Government to open talks with the union as early as possible this year on the planned tender process for the Gourock-Dunoon route on which Argyll Ferries currently operate foot passenger services. We want the public sector to be able to offer car and freight services on this route too and, ultimately for this route to be brought back into the CHFS bundle.

The union will also continue with a forceful political campaign to keep Clyde and Hebrides ferry services in the public sector under CalMac and for the Scottish Government to reject the bid from Serco who would bleed lifeline CHFS routes, workers and passengers for profit.

The collective response from CalMac members, reps and union negotiators in defending jobs, pensions and terms and conditions of employment from attack has been a credit to the union.  I urge all members to continue their magnificent support for the union’s campaign to stop privatisation of CalMac ferries and to participate in the public events and political campaigns that will take place over the coming months to make the case against Serco running these lifeline public ferry services.

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

Yours sincerely


Mick Cash
General Secretary