Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Bob Crow vs The Lords of the Isles

Not content with raising the barricades against the ConDem government's planned assault on public spending Bob Crow, the RMT's fiery general secretary, has decided to take on Caledonian MacBrayne.

Crow, a union leader so militant that the right-wing press would have to invent him if he did not already exist, has called on the Scottish government to end speculation that CalMac will be split up and some routes privatised.

Breaking up the state-owned ferry service that runs to 24 west coast ports would be logistical and economic madness. Not only are the ships and routes interdependent and able to substitute each other in the event of breakdown or maintenance, many of the lifeline services do not make a bean of money and would be left to wither on the vine as high volume routes are picked off. Twice before attempts to break up the company and privatise it - an idea on no one's political agenda except civil servants in the Scottish Government - have been seen off.

This time Crow is onboard and although he divides opinion there is no doubt about his determination to defend the pay and conditions of his union members.

The RMT, a maritime union as well, will be stepping up the pressure to save Scottish ferries at a public meeting tonight at 6.30pm at the Oban Royal Hotel.

Ahead of the rally Crow said: “The CalMac Hebridean and Clyde Ferries are a vital part of the transport infrastructure of Scotland and we are asking for an absolute assurance from the Scottish Executive that there will be no cuts on any of the routes currently operated."

“We know that cuts and privatisation are top of the political agenda as we move into the autumn and we are sending out a clear warning that any attempts to axe or sell off CalMac services will meet with fierce resistance from RMT and the wider labour and trade union movement in Scotland."

Fighting talk, as usual, but taking on the government or London Underground is not the same as taking on CalMac. Remember Bob, that little sung verse from Psalm 24:

"Unto the Lord belongs the Earth
And all that it contains
Except the Kyles and Western Isles
For they belong to MacBraynes"

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