RMT demand action to end pandemic pay betrayal for CalMac key workers.
SCOTTISH FERRIES UNION RMT today wrote to the Minister for Islands, Energy and Connectivity, Paul Wheelhouse MSP demanding that he meet the union to correct a pay injustice for key workers at public sector ferry company CalMac.
RMT is in dispute with CalMac over a 0.5% pay offer for 2020-21.
This scandalous below inflation pay increase for CalMac workers’ dedication and commitment over the pandemic has again been highlighted this week by the Scottish Government’s 2% settlement for 2021-22 for other public sector workers in Scotland.
RMT General Secretary, Mick Cash said;
“From the outset, CalMac were intent on forcing this derisory pay offer on our members and even rejected the offer of conciliation through ACAS.
“CalMac’s dedicated and hard working staff are public sector key workers who have put their health at risk operating lifeline services during the pandemic but are now being treated unfairly when compared to other public sector workers. That is nothing short of a betrayal.
“The sacrifices that other public sector workers and their families have made in the face of this cruel disease have been rightly recognised by the Scottish Government and as we approach parliamentary elections we are giving notice that we will be launching a fairness for ferry workers campaign to achieve pay justice.
“We’re calling on the Minister, Paul Wheelhouse to meet RMT to work with us to sort out this problem at CalMac.”
Letter to minister below:
Paul Wheelhouse MSP
Minister for Energy, Connectivity & the Islands
St. Andrew's House
Our Ref: S2/1/21
11th March 2021
Caledonian MacBrayne Ferries dispute – meeting request
Further to your discussion with RMT officials at the STUC meeting on 7th January 2021, my union remains in dispute with Calmac over the derisory 0.5% pay offer for 2020-21. I am now seeking an urgent meeting with you, before Parliament rises for the Holyrood elections, on this matter.
RMT sought to negotiate with the company over this unacceptable pay offer for 2020-21. Unfortunately, Calmac’s inexperienced and inflexible negotiating team point blank refused to move on that initial offer and even refused to meet the trade unions through the auspices of ACAS. In the fact the company made clear their first offer of 0.5% was the final offer from the company and they have imposed the settlement, putting the 0.5% in members pay packets. This high-handed and arrogant approach makes a mockery of the collective bargaining process. This does not bode well for the post-pandemic future.
By comparison, the Scottish Government’s pay award to other public sector workers in 2020-21 was 3% for those earning under £80,000 a year. And earlier this week, your administration and the Scottish Green Party reached agreement on a 2% increase in the 2021-22 pay award for police, firefighters, teachers and other public sector workers earning up to £40,000. Those earning above £40,000 per year, including management grades earning up to £79,000 p.a., will receive a 1% pay rise. It appears from this that Calmac workers are being treated as an inferior category of public sector worker.
You will also know that pay awards on the Scottish Government’s two main ferry contracts, Clyde and Hebrides and Northern Isles, tend to mirror each other. Once again, our members in Calmac have lost out, as Serco NorthLink agreed a 1% pay increase for our members on the NIFS contract for 2020-21. Awarding 1% in total to Calmac members, once the
0.5% already paid is taken into account, would only cost an additional £450,000 and is entirely affordable.
Throughout the pandemic, Calmac staff have risked their lives and the health of their families to maintain lifeline ferry services, ensuring community access to the NHS and keeping those communities supplied with food, medical and other essentials. For Calmac to ignore the flexibility in the CHFS contract for pay settlements, reject conciliation through ACAS and impose what amounts to a pay cut on our members is a blatant betrayal for key public sector workers at this time of ongoing emergency.
Calmac have put the 0.5% pay award in our members’ pay packets but that is the company’s decision and RMT remain in dispute with the employer. In the face of this inferior treatment for public sector ferry workers, RMT will continue to fight for a fair pay award for to recognise the sacrifices and commitment of these public sector workers in supporting island communities during this cruel pandemic.
Inflation has eaten away at the value of Calmac members’ pay. Average RPI in the months since August is 1.18%, yet Calmac stick rigidly to the August RPI figure, an anomaly created in part by UK Government policy. This is perverse and unfair on hard working Calmac staff and must be addressed with a further, retrospective settlement for 2020-21.
The union will be starting a campaign with all industrial and political options on the table in the run up to the Scottish Parliament elections and, if necessary, through the Summer. We are in this for the long haul to get fair pay for ferry workers but I do hope you would agree it would be mutually beneficial if we met to discuss this matter as soon as possible.
I am copying in Rozanne Foyer STUC general secretary to this letter as STUC were represented at our meeting in January.