Northern Isles Ferry Service Must Put Communities First

Highlands and Islands Green MSP John Finnie has called on the Scottish Government to put the needs of communities at the forefront of its thinking, as it announced early details of the Northern Isles Ferry Services tendering process.

Mr Finnie is calling on the Scottish Government to ensure that public ferry operator Calmac is in a position to tender for this contract, as a prelude to the permanent nationalisation of the Northern Isles routes. This would ensure that the significant public subsidy that goes to these services would secure sustainable returns for remote communities, rather than Serco shareholders.

The Scottish Government must also ensure that workers terms and conditions are protected, and not allow private operators to undermine these. This is best achieved by ensuring that Trade Unions RMT and Nautilus are included in discussions at all stages.

Commenting, John Finnie said:

“I believe that the lifeline Northern Isles Ferry Services should be run exclusively in the interest of my constituents in Orkney and Shetland, rather than for private profit. The Scottish Green Party has consistently called for these services to be run as a public service. The Scottish Government could still deliver this by ensuring that Calmac come in with a strong bid in the tendering process.

“The significant public subsidy that goes to these routes should be used to the benefit of island communities and that simply doesn’t happen when you put a disreputable company such as Serco in charge.

“One thing the Scottish Government can and must commit to is protecting the terms and conditions of the workforce. I am therefore calling on Ministers to ensure that RMT and Nautilus are involved at every step in the tendering process to ensure this is prioritised.”