24 June 2021
RMT Press Office:
Transport Scotland is seeking to charter from anti-trade union operator Pentland Ferries for service on CalMac routes in western Scotland.
SCOTTISH Ferries Union RMT today commented on the results of the safety inspection carried out by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, at the RMT’s request, on the catamaran MV Pentalina which Transport Scotland is seeking to charter from anti-trade union operator Pentland Ferries for service on CalMac routes in western Scotland.
RMT General Secretary, Mick Lynch said:
“We asked surveyors from the Maritime and Coastguard Agency to re-inspect the Pentalina following a tip-off that the vessel’s owner had personally altered the superstructure, compromising safety provisions at the intersection between the galley kitchen and passenger accommodation on the vessel.
“We have been proved absolutely right to do so. It is a fact that workplaces covered by trade union agreements are safer workplaces. On-board safety committees with crew representatives work well in CalMac Ferries but the buccaneering owner of Pentland Ferries, Andrew Banks clearly regards maritime safety regulations with the same suspicion he regards trade unions.
“This vessel had been declared fit for relief service on four CalMac routes by the MCA before the RMT’s intervention. Rather than working with the vessel’s dodgy owner to gloss over this shocking case, we need an inquiry into how the Scottish Government’s ferry procurement strategy has exposed crew and passengers to this unacceptable level of risk.”
- RMT raised safety concerns with the MCA’s Chief Executive Brian Johnson on 15th June, asking that MCA surveyors re-inspect the Pentalina. General Secretary Mick Lynch wrote: “You asked for further details of the union’s concerns over the safety impact of the significant alterations undertaken by the owner of Pentland Ferries to the structure of the Pentalina. The alteration which we would like MCA Surveyors to assess was to the galley servery, where it adjoins to the passenger accommodation on the vessel. A fridge counter that was positioned here and connected to a steel beam was removed using a grinder. A shutter remains in place but the original counter has been replaced with a glass fronted, mobile refrigeration unit. We are concerned that this compromises protection for passengers and workers from fires, including smoke inhalation, in the galley kitchen. I am also advised that the alterations were personally undertaken by Andrew Banks, owner of Pentland Ferries.
- Mr Johnson replied on 23 June, stating: “An MCA Surveyor has visited the vessel [MV Pentalina] to undertake an inspection of the area of concern. During this visit discrepancies were uncovered with respect to structural fire protection in way of the passenger accommodation and the corridor providing access to the crew accommodation and Galley Servery.
- In a written answer of 16 June, Transport Minister Graeme Dey MSP stated that Transport Scotland has been considering the charter of the Pentalina for service on CalMac routes since ‘late 2019.’
- In 2016, the TUC published a report, ‘The Union Effect’ showing that trade union organised workplaces are safer workplaces. https://www.tuc.org.uk/research-analysis/reports/union-effect