Finnie Challenges Minister Over Ferry Contract

Scottish Greens transport spokesperson John Finnie MSP today (29 May) challenged Scottish Ministers to overhaul their "opportunistic" attitude toward ferry services between Orkney, Shetland and the Scottish mainland.

Mr Finnie, a Highlands and Islands MSP, has written to Transport Minister Humza Yousaf following last week's announcement from the Scottish Government that it will put the Northern Isles ferry services out to commercial tender, rather than bringing them into the public sector.

In his letter, Mr Finnie accuses the government of kicking any meaningful decision on these lifeline services to beyond the next election.

He also asks for a meeting with the minister and meantime wants the following commitments:

- The tender will protect terms and conditions for workers

- The tender will increase freight provision

- The subsequent contract should be an open process, with the aim of having it secured by public sector operator CalMac

- Inter-island services should be brought into the Northern Isles contract

- Trade unions and CalMac should be involved in any future ferry procurement

John Finnie MSP said:

“The Scottish Government's opportunistic approach means a publicly-owned service, run in the interest of communities in Orkney and Shetland, is effectively kicked beyond the next election. I won't allow this important issue to be brushed aside, and I hope the minister agrees to sit down and discuss the details.

“Public ownership of our vital transport services is fundamental. Commercial providers do not have a good track record when it comes to levels of service, and the sooner the government realises this the better for our communities."