There was an interesting blog from the Mull & Iona Ferry committee contrasting ferries CMAL have procured from a Turkish yard, with two comparable vessels ordered from the same shipbuilder for Norway. In a nutshell, the Norwegians have gotten more for less.
Certainly, CMAL procurement methods need questioned but there remains whether we’re getting the right ferries. One of the issues is ships servicing these communities have onboard accommodation for crew which doesn’t apply across the North Sea, though often equally remote communities are served.
Now the crew are vital, I’ve had family who worked on these ships, and support workers’ representation on Cal Mac. RMT are also a union I much respect and they’re right to stand up for their members interests. But it seems to me that there is a solution to all this and one that serves the interests of workers, communities and indeed the entire country.
The local ships don’t require onboard accommodation. Crew can and it can be argued should live locally. Jobs in these communities are essential and help sustain the community. It’s not just about civil service job dispersal but ensuring local work goes to those who live in the community. But a more frequent service with different ferries could allow for similar numbers employed even if crew numbers on individual ferries were slightly reduced.
In any event assistance could be given to those who lived elsewhere but were willing to relocate. For many living closer to their work may suit and reduce time travelling to get there, never mind being away from their families whilst at work but off duty.
For other crew members though that may not be an option and their family may well be settled and unable or unwilling to move. But Scotland badly needs a European ferry service. and the need is growing by the day. Why don’t the Scottish Government have Cal Mac commence a vital link and one where onboard living for crew is required. The countries’ needs could be served by those who need to live on board.
That solution serves crew, communities and country.