6 March 2018
RMT Press Office:
Scottish ferries union, RMT, will be holding a public meeting on Shetland calling for the nationalisation of Northlink’s lifeline ferry services.
The meeting will take place on Fri 16 March, from 19:00 at Shetland Hotel (St. Catherine Suite South), Holmsgarth Road, Lerwick, ZE1 0PW
RMT Regional Organiser Gordon Martin will put the positive case for nationalising NorthLink.
This will be an excellent opportunity for Shetland Islanders, who are reliant on these lifeline ferries, to hear the union’s case.
RMT is calling this public meeting as the Scottish Government will shortly decide whether they will put the next contract for Northern Isles Ferry Services (NIFS) out to tender or not. The Minister for Transport & The Islands, Humza Yousaf told MSPs before Christmas that the legal case for bringing the Clyde and Hebrides Ferry Services contract permanently in-house is strong but that opposition to David MacBrayne makes it harder for the Scottish Government to bring the NIFS contract in-house.
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 also believes that the NIFS contract should be re-drawn by Transport Scotland to include inter-island services currently funded and provided by Shetland Islands Council. In our view, the NIFS contract offers the best long-term solution to the funding gap which has blighted inter-island services for years.
Northern Isles Ferry Services (NIFS) serve the people, staff and businesses of Shetland, Orkney 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.”