Friday, November 13, 2015

Bidder for Hebridean Freight and Passenger Ferry Service Accused of Ignoring Safety

Serco Described as 'Specialists in Failure'
Shipping News Feature
UK – The current negotiations for the lifeline freight and passenger ferry services on the West Coast of Scotland have taken a new twist with a withering attack on one of the two bidders, Serco, from a senior union representative. A leading UK union has said that the Scottish government should consider carefully any bid from the company in the light of its performance.

The latest row started with rail union RMT which is about to ballot members regarding the Caledonian Sleeper service operated by Serco. Despite several meetings between RMT negotiators and senior company management over the last few months the union has now informed the company it has no choice other than to proceed to ballot members over the company's failure to address the number of defects contained within the rolling stock.

The RMT alleges the equipment has potentially dangerous defects on a service which is unreliable, increasingly uncomfortable and riddled with health, safety and welfare issues. Saying it was essential to take action before someone was injured RMT General Secretary Mick Cash commented:

"The sleeper franchise was awarded to Serco by the Scottish Government and the multi-national privateer took over from First Group in March this year. Our members have been unhappy with Serco's management of the iconic service from Scotland to London since the very early days of them taking on this fifteen year franchise. This is yet another example of Serco winning public sector contracts and failing to deliver for the tax payer, passengers and staff.

"The Scottish Government must pay heed to the warnings from RMT and opposition politicians about the broken promises from Serco on their deliverance of public transport and ensure the announcement regarding the award of the Clyde and Hebridean Ferry Service is made in advance of the Scottish parliamentary elections next May.”

Describing Serco as a company ‘which specialises in failure’ Mr Cash said the company’s failings should act as a wake-up call to the Scottish Government before the announcement of the winner of the lifeline ferry service on Scotland's west coast, currently delivered by the public sector through CalMac ferries.

Photo: The magnificent sights on the offshore islands attract thousands of visitors annually.