Highlands and Islands Labour MSP, David Stewart, who is Scottish Labour’s Transport Spokesperson, has welcomed the report published by Jeanette Findlay, a Scottish ferry economics expert, which has recommended that Western Isles and west coast ferry routes should continue to be run by CalMac.
The report which was commissioned by the Seafarers’ union, RMT, has been hailed by the union as making an overwhelming case for keeping the ferry services in the public sector.
The current contract is out to tender at present with final bids to be lodged this month.
CalMac, who presently operate the Clyde and Hebrides ferry services contract (CHFS) faces a serious challenge from private operators, Serco, for the £1 billion subsidy to run the ferry network.
The report by Jeanette Findlay, who is an economics lecturer at Glasgow University, states that CalMac: “Has operated in an efficient, innovative and strategic way in the conduct of the CHFS contract and has shared with the Scottish Government all the benefits of cost saving.”
Mr Stewart, who has led Scottish Labour’s campaign to keep CalMac in public hands, has tabled a motion in Parliament welcoming the report’s findings and urging the Scottish Government to respond to the report’s positive case for keeping the operation of CHFS in CalMac’s hands.
Commenting, David Stewart, said: “I have campaigned hard to keep CalMac in public hands. This report states, very clearly, the economic case for doing this.
“It is categorically in favour of the 2016-24 contract being awarded to CalMac, in order to preserve and increase the economic benefits of publicly funded services, good employment and training practices already in place.”
Mr Stewart continued: “It is essential we keep the contract in public hands to ensure the investment is there to provide our island communities with the vital ferry services they need. CalMac is part of our islands’ DNA and it’s future is being jeopardised by this needless tendering process.
“I have tabled a motion in Parliament calling on the Scottish Government to respond to this report’s positive case for keeping the operation of the Clyde and Hebrides ferry services contract in public hands.”