Scotland’s largest ferry union, RMT, has written to Kevin Stewart MSP, the new Scottish Transport Minister, to demand an urgent meeting over the increasingly fragile resilience of the ferry services.
This follows the latest safety incident involving what was claimed to be an anti-union company, Pentland Ferries.
Pentland Ferries’ ‘Pentalina’ grounded off the Orkney Islands at the end of April and experienced an engine room fire. All 60 passengers and some crew members were safely transferred to RNLI vessels.
She was brought back into service in the Pentland Firth following the Scottish Government approved decision to timecharter Pentland Ferries’ other vessel, ‘Alfred’, for £9 mill to provide relief on specific River Clyde and Hebrides Island routes.
RMT general secretary Mick Lynch (pictured) claimed that the ‘Pentalina’ had a recent history of safety issues and the ‘Alfred’ is subject to an ongoing Maritime Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) investigation after it grounded off Swona in July last year, injuring six passengers.
“I pay tribute to the bravery and professionalism of the crew who successfully extinguished the engine room fire and returned the beleaguered vessel to port at St Margaret’s Hope. The root causes of these incidents remain the Ferguson Marine fiasco and the complete lack of a coherent ferries plan.
“We are now at a stage where the Northern Isles, as well as the island communities and local economies in the west of Scotland, are forced to live with the restricted capacity on their ferry services just as the summer timetables hit full swing.
“RMT is committed to working to resolve these issues, which are affecting our 1,200 members at Pentland Ferries, CalMac Ferries and NorthLink to an intolerable extent.
“We ask that you meet with RMT officials, as a matter of urgency to discuss how we resolve this crisis,” he said.