Councillor Donald Crichton has written to Transport Minister Derek Mackay questioning
the necessity of the Caledonian MacBrayne contract being put out to tender and asking
for safeguards to be put in place to protect lifeline services and jobs.
Mr Crichton wrote: "Could you confirm if it is legal binding under the EU regulation
for the routes to go out to tender in the first place? Was this ever legally tested
by the Scottish Government or previous administrations?"
"It appears this drive to sell off our lifeline services is more a matter of desire
on the part of the Scottish Government rather than a binding legal requirement."
The Loch a Tuath councillor stated that the possibility of the routes being lost
to a private sector bidder was raising serious concerns across the islands' communities
and fear and anxiety among CalMac employees.
He said: " Employees’ fears and concerns are understandable. Their terms and conditions
are under threat and they need assurances that they will be protected should this
unnecessary tendering process result in CalMac losing the contract. The communities
that CalMac serves also need assurances that the routes they depend upon will remain
and not be subject to threat under the private sector. "
Cllr Crichton continued: " You and the First Minister insist that this is not privatisation.
However, if the contract goes to the private bidder, the company the First Minster
is the principle shareholder of (Caledonian MacBrayne) will cease to exist leaving
the public interest at the mercy of a private sector company.
"It was surely always a fundamental principle, that whatever the disagreements were
about the way CalMac was managed it was at best accountable to the people through
their democratically elected government. Through that accountability the public interest
was protected for passengers and employees. Should this sell off take place that
will no longer be the case."