A union representing key workers at a ferry company has written to a Scottish Government minister demanding a meeting in a bid to “correct a pay injustice”.
The RMT is in dispute with Caledonian MacBrayne (CalMac) over a 0.5% pay offer for 2020-21.
It said the Scottish Government’s pay award for other public sector workers was 3% for those earning under £80,000.
In a letter to Paul Wheelhouse MSP, minister for islands, energy and connectivity, the union claims CalMac’s negotiating team “point blank refused to move on that initial offer and even refused to meet the trade unions”.
The union claims CalMac members have lost out after another ferry contractor, Serco NorthLink, agreed a 1% pay increase for RMT.
It said this is despite the fact pay awards “tend to mirror each other”.
In the letter, RMT general secretary Mick Cash writes: “Throughout the pandemic, CalMac staff have risked their lives and the health of their families to maintain lifeline ferry services, ensuring community access to the NHS and keeping those communities supplied with food, medical and other essentials.”
He added: “From the outset, CalMac were intent on forcing this derisory pay offer on our members and even rejected the offer of conciliation through ACAS.
“CalMac’s dedicated and hardworking staff are public sector key workers who have put their health at risk operating lifeline services during the pandemic but are now being treated unfairly when compared to other public sector workers. That is nothing short of a betrayal.
“The sacrifices that other public sector workers and their families have made in the face of this cruel disease have been rightly recognised by the Scottish Government and, as we approach parliamentary elections, we are giving notice that we will be launching a fairness for ferry workers campaign to achieve pay justice.
“We’re calling on the minister Paul Wheelhouse to meet RMT to work with us to sort out this problem at CalMac.”
Robbie Drummond, CalMac managing director, said: “We believe we have made a fair offer which rewards our staff who have worked incredibly hard to keep our services going during the pandemic but protects the Company’s financial and long-term stability.
“CalMac, like many other companies, has suffered unprecedented economic pressures this year.
“At a time when many people have lost their jobs, we have protected every permanent position at CalMac and provided furloughed staff 100% of their pay.
“This was thanks to support from the Scottish Government, but once Covid-19 support ends, we will be delivering our services in a very uncertain economic environment.”
A Scottish Government spokesman said: “Scottish Ministers have no direct role in these discussions, but we expect CalMac to continue to engage in a proactive manner with the unions.
“We will continue to support all our ferry networks, as well as providing ongoing financial help to maintain lifeline services during the pandemic.
“Scottish Ministers will respond directly to the letter from the RMT.”