Ferry strike concerns

The strike is planned for the end of this week.
The strike is planned for the end of this week.

This week’s planned strike action by members of the RMT union on the CalMac ferries network is likely to expected to cause widespread disruption to travel plans but is also causing concern for those organising events both on and off the islands.

The Barrathon is due to take place in Barra this weekend and following a large number of representations, Western Isles MP Angus MacNeil has contacted CalMac in the hope of organising an alternative timetable.

Angus MacNeil said: “The organisers of Barrathon, which has been running for years now, and raises money for MacMillan Cancer Support and local charities, have been in touch with me as well as some competitors, anxious that the charitable event is about to be obliterated this year due to the CalMac strike.

“The strike action is scheduled for the day prior to Barrathon, which means it will be difficult for many competitors to come to the island. Some people have remarked that it is ironic that this strike is about supporting Caledonian MacBrayne sailing to the islands, meanwhile islanders are caught ‘piggy-in-the-middle’.

“While islanders are supportive of CalMac and their crews, it would be nice not to have damage wrought to the economy of our islands and charitable events like Barrathon.

“If the strike is to go ahead on all routes, and oblivious to all circumstances, at the suggestion of some athletes I have contacted CalMac to request that they send the Clansman from Oban at midnight on the Saturday morning, so that athletes can get to Barra and that the event is not wiped-out.

“I will also contact the RMT Union, while islanders and mindful of their reasons for the strike, they would also like the RMT to understand the particular difficulties the strike action will have in some places next weekend.”

The Lewis Pipe Band is also due to travel to Forres for the European Pipe Band Championships and many island athletes are scheduled to compete in events on the mainland.