RMT reacts to new CalMac Catamaran trials

RMT reacts to new CalMac Catamaran trials

27 April 2023

RMT Press Office:

Ferries union, RMT has condemned the "scandalous" decision by CalMac to begin trials of a catamaran ferry to help provide relief cover on its west coast network.

The Scottish government has provided £9m for the nine-month long charter of MV Alfred, owned by Orkney-based Pentland Ferries.

Reacting to the news, RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said: "This is a scandalous attack on trade union agreements and will encourage private operators to lobby for unbundling and privatisation of the profitable Clyde and Hebrides routes operated by CalMac.

"£9m to time charter a vessel for 9 months that cost £14m five years ago is an appalling deal for the taxpayer, let alone the long-term threat this creates to jobs, terms and conditions, pension rights and the stability of lifeline ferry services in the west of Scotland.

"The trials being run involve harbours not on the CHFS contract, and six others that are. Pentland Ferries, Western Ferries, P&O and Serco will be looking to exploit this."

Mr Lynch also criticised the SNP government reminding them that they had made commitments not to privatise CalMac.

He added: "This is P&O Ferries by the back door on Scotland’s public ferry services.

"It is not the first time that the crisis manufactured at Ferguson Marine has led to the chartering of ships which undermine the terms and conditions of employment for hard working CalMac staff trying to maintain lifeline services on ageing ships.

"But this is a clear attempt to further pit the valid interests of passengers against the equally valid interests of CalMac staff."



The Alfred is a £14m catamaran, owned by the anti-trade union operator Pentland Ferries. It was delivered in 2019 after a 9,000 mile trip from the Vietnamese shipyard that built it.

RMT is concerned at the safety record of the Alfred. A MAIB investigation is ongoing into the grounding of the Alfred of Swona in the Pentland Firth in July last year, which injured six passengers.

The status of its safety licences is also unclear, following applications the operator made in 2021 for exemptions from core Crew Accommodation regulations which the shipbuilder had overlooked.

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Tagged with: MV Alfred, CalMac Ferries, Pentland Ferries,