RMT CalMac members voted almost nine to one in favour of strike action following a ballot of more than 500 staff following the weeks of uncertainty surrounding the future of the company. The turnout for the ballot stood at 60%.
But the ballot papers were issued before assurances from both the First Minister and the Transport Minister that the routes would not be separated.
Initially there was concern that routes highlighted in the 2010 Scottish Ferry Review would be tendered separately. But following interest in the Clyde and Hebrides routes from private operators Serco and P&O uncertainty has arisen throughout ferry services in Scotland.
The union say they are waiting for written assurances from the Scottish Government regarding employee pensions and workplace rights. They say they have set no time limit on a decision to strike or when they want further assurance by.
RMT General Secretary Bob Crow said: “This massive vote for action shows that RMT members are determined to stand united in the fight to defend their pensions and workplace rights on the CalMac services.
“The result will now be considered by the RMT executive and we hope that the company and the ministers will now seize this opportunity to give us the very simple and straightforward assurances we are seeking.”
The Clyde and Hebrides Routes contract is set to expire by 2013, however there has been no announcement when the tender process will begin.
A RMT spokesperson described the tender process as: “Expensive and disruptive - a waste of money that creates uncertainty amongst staff.”
The Scottish Government insist the tender process is a result of EU regulation.