30 October 2015
RMT Press Office
RMT calls on Scottish Government to sharpen CalMac tender timetable to allow for declaration before polling day.
CALMAC UNION RMT today launched an official call for the Scottish Government to tighten up the tendering timetable for the Clyde and Hebrides Ferry Contract to allow for the winning bid to be declared in advance of polling day in the Scottish Elections.
Under the current CalMac tender process, there is a 6 week period from the 2nd of November to allow bidders to talk to Transport Scotland about refining their bids. As the contest is a straight fight between CalMac and Serco, and no other bidders, RMT believes that that window is far too wide and acts a drag weight on the process.
As a result, RMT is calling for that 6 week period to be curtailed so that the winning bid can be announced before Scottish Parliament elections on 5th May – sharpening the current timetable which has the winning bid being announced at the end of May 2016.
John Finnie, Independent MSP, put a parliamentary motion down in July calling for the announcement of the winning bid to be brought forward but Ministers have so far refused to act.
John Finnie’s motion, which remains live, says :
“That the Parliament notes that the Clyde and Hebrides ferry services currently operated by the publicly owned CalMac are being put out to tender and that the private sector corporation, Serco, is bidding to take over the services; further notes that the current 10-month timetable for tendering for the contract, from the issuing of the invitation to tender on 31 July 2015 to the announcement of the successful bidder at the end of May 2016, means that the winner of the contract will not be announced until only weeks after the Scottish Parliament election; is concerned that this means that communities, businesses and the electorate as a whole will not be able to hold ministers properly to account on this issue; believes that the people of Scotland and those who rely on these vital lifeline services have a right to know before the election whether the service will be operated by CalMac or Serco; understands that other transport contracts let by the Scottish Government have had between a four and nine month tender timetable, and calls on the Scottish Government to bring forward the tender timetable by only a few weeks so that the successful bidder can be announced before the 2016 Scottish Parliament election, ensuring the fullest possible accountability for what it considers this vital decision.”
RMT General Secretary Mick Cash said:
“The Scottish Government can no longer hide behind the tender process or the commitment in the Ferries Plan to open up Scottish ferries to greater competition. There are only two bidders for the CHFS contract - CalMac and Serco. It is a straight fight between public and private that does not need another six weeks of artificial competition which would rob the Scottish people of their right to know who will run these lifeline services, before Scottish Parliament elections on 5th May. The announcement of the winning bid must be brought forward to the earliest date possible.”
Steve Todd, RMT National Secretary, added:
“This is by far the biggest public sector contract for lifeline Scottish ferry services but Transport Scotland have had much longer than usual to plan for the tender process to be completed in good time before Scottish Parliament elections on 5th May. Rather than grimly insisting on a full, 6 week period discussing two bids Transport Scotland will already know very well, the Scottish Government should recognise the clear public interest in bringing the announcement of the winning bid forward to early April so that CalMac passengers, workers and customers know, when they cast their vote, who will be running their lifeline services for up to 8 years from October 2016.”