ALEX Salmond today moved to allay fears over the future of CalMac by appearing to rule out its west coast ferry route network being split up.
The First Minister told MSPs the Scottish Government had “no plans to unbundle the Clyde and Hebrides ferry service. The case for unbundling, in our estimation, has not been made.”
The statement follows concern from Labour and the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT)union that ministers would hive off CalMac’s four busiest routes, as suggested in their 2010 consultation on future ferry services.
The RMT has already launched a strike ballot over pensions and workers’ rights if the routes - Ardrossan to Brodick on Arran, Wemyss Bay to Rothesay on Bute, Oban to Craignure on Mull and Largs to Cumbrae - are split off.
Scottish Government-owned CalMac’s current six-year contract expires next year, with its routes now expected to be put out to competitive tender as a single network.
Scottish Trades Union Congress general secretary Grahame Smith said: “The STUC was delighted to hear the First Minister state unequivocally that the Clyde and Hebrides ferry services would not be unbundled.
The Scottish Government has clearly listened to the compelling arguments made by trade unions and others that the economies of scale and operational efficiencies provided by the bundle must be retained.”