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10 January 2018
RMT Press Office:
Scottish ferries union, RMT, announced today that it will be holding a public meeting on Orkney calling for the nationalisation of Northlink’s lifeline ferry services.
The meeting will take place on Weds 7th Feb, 19.00 – 22.00 at the Ayre Hotel, Ayre Road, Kirkwall KW15 1QX
Invited speakers are:
Humza Yousaf MSP, Minister for Transport & Islands
Liam McArthur MSP, Orkney (Lib Dem)
Cllr James Stockan, Leader, Orkney Islands Council (Independent)
David Stewart MSP, Highland & Islands (Labour)
John Finnie MSP, Highland & Islands (Green)
Stuart Garrett, Managing Director, Serco NorthLink Ferries
Gordon Martin, RMT Regional Organiser
The meeting is being called in light of the Scottish Government’s announcement that it will decide by Spring 2018 whether or not to re-tender the next Northern Isles Ferry Services (NIFS) contract.
The case will be made for public ownership and operation of the NIFS contract and the need to Nationalise NorthLink now. Contract holders Serco have overseen a decline in performance, passenger numbers and freight movements whilst receiving a significantly higher subsidy compared to the previous operator.
RMT believes that the NIFS contract should be re-drawn by Transport Scotland to include inter-island services currently funded and provided by local councils, including our members on Orkney Ferries.
Northern Isles Ferry Services (NIFS) serve the people, staff and businesses of Orkney, Shetland and the mainland. In 2016, the fleet of 5 vessels carried over 300,000 passengers and over 60,000 vehicles on three routes. RMT members are proud to deliver this service for local communities and visitors .
Current contract holders Serco NorthLink received a 10% increase in subsidy and no taxpayer clawback to operate the 2012-18 contract. Yet fewer passengers and vehicles are being carried, and reliability and punctuality are below the standard set by the previous operator, David MacBrayne.
Mick Cash, RMT General Secretary said:
“RMT members are proud to deliver this lifeline ferry service for local communities and visitors. Rather than subsidise privateers for a worsening service these lifeline ferries need to be brought into public ownership so they operate in the best interests of the people who use them.
Steve Todd, RMT National Secretary commented:
“Northern Isles communities deserve lower fares, more frequent sailings and improved on-board services, on properly staffed and funded vessels. We believe a growing and more reliable service can only be achieved through public ownership and operation.”