Council slam CalMac over the loss of local jobs but CalMac hits back.
Comhairle nan Eilean Siar says it is deeply disappointed at the news that Calmac Ferries Limited have discontinued four call centre roles that were established in Stornoway leaving the affected staff out of work.
However the ferry operator has hit back at the claims, saying that the jobs were temporary and had run the length of their contracts, and that no jobs have been lost.
A council spokesman said: “As part of a wider cost cutting exercise Calmac Ferries have reduced call centre staff both in their central belt head office in Gourock and in Stornoway. The move to locate customer service jobs in Stornoway was accompanied by a pledge that Calmac would seek to locate support function staff more evenly across their area of operations and this move was welcomed as a modest step in the right direction.
“With a range of policies including the Islands Act and the Housing to 2040 Vision and Principles recognising the unique challenges faced by island communities and rural depopulation, it is difficult to reconcile the actions of the ferry company operating a Transport Scotland contract.
Cllr Uisdean Robertson Chair of Transportation said: “It is always sad to hear of jobs lost in our islands but it is particularly difficult to accept when we believed that Calmac recognised their responsibility to do better in terms of locating staff in island areas and ensuring the Gaelic language is included in the touch points customers have with them.
"At the same time as HIAL have a strategy that will remove air traffic control jobs from island communities we now find a transport company favouring centralisation over local accountability.
"Calmac should make it a priority to find alternative roles for the affected staff in order to demonstrate that the Islands Act has some substance.”
Robbie Drummond, Managing Director of CalMac, said: “These were temporary jobs which naturally came to an end. All permanent contact centre posts in Stornoway have been retained and our Gaelic speaking-staff remain in post, providing excellent service to all of our customers.
“CalMac is one of the biggest employers in the Western Isles and we are proud to support and serve local communities.”