I've not long moved to Troon and have a decent view of the harbour. The last last couple of weeks has seen a Calmac vessel sitting in Troon harbour but not always staying there. It's one of the mid sized vessels, I'd say smaller than the new vessels or the Arran boat but obviously bigger than the double ended landing craft style seen in the Largs-Cumbrae run. What's the story behind that.
I've also heard rumours that Calmac are possibly thinking of ditching the Ardrossan - Arran run, any truth to that?
I just remembered tha the CalMac west coast ferries were up for contract - but only Serco appears to be interested.
This occasional silliness every few years usually generates a number of tales, as the CalMac haters seek to influence any bidders.
They seem to think CalMac must be destroyed because it is a long-standing monopoly (is 'evil' like Google, Microsoft, Tesco at al) and is consequentially shafting everybody.
But they forget than when they (whoever 'they' are) succeeded in wresting the northwestern ferries from the long-stranding incumbent a few years ago, it was only a matter of weeks before the successfully bidder ran out of money and wanted to run away from the contract they had won with such joy, and were going to make 'BETTER', and ended up having to beg for financial help.
Somebody paid to think about ferries thinks much the same as I do
I hope he has another job lined up, the CalMac haters will get him fired (at least I don't have that worry - I just avoid dark alleys )
However, Professor Alf Baird of Edinburgh Napier University, said: “The single large bundle [of routes] and having to use the existing fleet/crews is the problem.
“There is no scope for innovation given the preference for a large bundle, plus any bidder having to use the existing fleet and CalMac crews.
“Current arrangements favours the existing public ‘institution’ that is CalMac, and the unions.
“Serco appear quite happy to utilise state-owned assets as it means they don’t incur any capital expenditure - all they can try to do is squeeze out costs to make a small profit.
“Their result with NorthLink is not so impressive - very little has changed - albeit on Stromness-Scrabster they reduced the daily frequency from three round trips to two to save fuel - which in turn might help generate them an operating surplus.
“But that kind of strategy is no use when serving islands with no competing service.”
I doubt there was anything suspect, and for me, this just reinforces my assertion that there are people who are jealous that CalMac can do its job, and want their contracts torn away from CalMac so that they can milk them. Something I say CalMac is accused of, but does not do.
But if you look at the performance of the successful bidder that took the northwest routes away from the company, you'll see that their actions were less than exemplary.
On the other hand, this complaint has to be suspect, since the RMT is behind it - there has to be something in it for them.
The RMT often screws up the ferries (and is forever claiming CalMac is shafting its members) - despite the automated chant of "We never intend to inconvenience travellers."
Their lack of 'causing inconvenience' meant I had to cancel a Christmas trip to Bute one year, as they were calling their members (the ferry crews) over the Christmas holiday period (yup, no ferries over Christmas holidays will NEVER inconvenience ANY travellers, just all the people travelling home to see family once a year).
They got their way with this blackmail as I recall, and the ferries were running just before the holiday period started.
Ever since I started travelling on CalMax ferries on the Clyde, I have been reading of disruption to the service by the RMT for “failure to provide satisfactory reassurances over job security, conditions of service, pensions and continuity of lifeline ferry services for remote communities and businesses”.
And that time runs into DECADES.
The RMT is threatening strike action on CalMac ferries for “failure to provide satisfactory reassurances over job security, conditions of service, pensions and continuity of lifeline ferry services for remote communities and businesses”.
This has to be longest playing 'Broken record' I or anyone else has been forced to listen to since the dawn of time!
I it time for the RMT's leader to jet of on holiday abroad? And he doesn't want anything to happen while he's away?
I have a sort of 'buffer' that keeps possibly interesting articles to hand for a while, and I noticed a number of stories that mention CalMac were due to expire.
I thought I would have a look and see if they perhaps supported my belief that 'CalMac haters' like to use any opportunity to kick the company, and I think they do.
Having its usual hissy-fit and wanting more money for its poor members, the RMT opted for its usual tool - a strike call.
While this was over rail related matters, CalMac ferries were to be disrupted because... members!
While this had nothing to with CalMac, it could later give them a stick to hit CalMac with, as they merely point out that CalMac services were off due to 'yet another strike' and ignore further context. byt hthe time anybody clarifies things, the damage is done and nobody cares.
I give you this as an example first, it's really just smear as a new round of tenders comes up:
So, on to THIS years's direct strike threat against CalMac (not to be confused with the rail strike!)
Although all the strikes threats in the past have been about the way CalMac screws its staff, and despite all those strikes beeing settled to everyone's satisfaction, the union said the move was prompted by the Scottish Government-owned firm’s “failure to provide satisfactory reassurances over job security, conditions of service, pensions and continuity of lifeline ferry services for remote communities and businesses”.
Then there's the matter of breakdowns - I'm not sure quite what the haters expect, but ferries break down, it happens in the real world, and although they don't seem to understand it, a breakdown is a s much of an inconvenience to CalMac as it is to the passengers. Maybe even more so, since the company has service levels to meet, and failure results in penalties, AND it has to pay out compensation.
Although my notification was not in a linkable news article, a few weeks ago the haters got together and accused CalMac of making the excuse that the 'wrong type of water' was responsible for its bad service, which was clearly an attempt to ridicule the company in the same way attempts were made to ridicule the rail companies when they referred to the type of leaves on the line which had disrupted their services.
Both of those (and the other one that appeared of 'the wrong type of snow') are gross insults to all the companies involved, and sad reflection on the poor engineering education of the public, and of the media for the 'cheap shot'.
Any of those three hazards could lead to deaths if not taken into account and handles accordingly by the companies concerned.
I sometimes think that unless the ferry is not actually sinking, the haters think it should be operating regardless of the weather!
The master of one of CalMac’s two Rothesay-Wemyss Bay ferries has mounted a stout defence of their record.
Calum Bryce, the master of MV Bute, spoke at a public meeting on the island against the backdrop of perceptions from some islanders that his ship, and its younger sister MV Argyle, are not suitable for the route they operate - and are not as suitable as the old ‘streakers’ they replaced.
“You have a superb ship for your run,” Mr Bryce said, on being asked whether he believed he had the right vessel for the job.
“The two of them, I think, are superb.
“My priorities are the safety of the passengers, the safety of my crew, the ship and the shore infrastructure, in that order.
“We don’t cancel sailings willy-nilly. We care about you people, we try to give the best service we can, and safety is always paramount.”
It's almost disappointing not to be able to comment on the issues raised in this article, but this is a forum when out-and-out political commentary is barred, so I can't really say anything.
I can re-iterate my past consideration that most of the material arises from the past, and a history of CalMac-bashing merely because the company is/was the incumbent, and there are people who don't like that, merely on the basis that no-one else is "Getting a Shot" of playing ferries.
They don't care whether or not CalMac is doing a good job, or not, and merely wish them thrown out to let someone "do a better job".
As I've said before, these are 'lifeline ferries' (an official term) and heavily subsidised. CalMac has indeed done the job for years, but with commercial interests and tendering being required by legislation (SOME CLAIM - a claim I disagree with since the subject is 'lifeline ferries', not an unsubsidised for-profit operation), all I see are greedy commercial operators that think there are 'free profits' to be had by cooking the books and collecting government subsidy handout with no questions asked.
I'm NOT saying the companies themselves are crooked - but that there are people in them who think they can work a scam and pocket the loot, hidden behind the terms of lifeline operations and government subsidies.
Things are worse now than they were a few years ago, as this article throws up the additional smokescreen of politician arguments and rhetoric - introducing a whole new level of war, while the the important subject of their routes, ferries, and their passengers get forgotten.
While you can't raise the political side here, you can look at the comments after the article to see how toxic and irrelevant that area is to the reality of ferry opoeration:
And this 'assistance' by the union, which we ALL believe is just 'coincidentally' taking place at the same time as the tender provess, makes the business 'more' or 'less' valuable/desirable as a subject being offerd for tender?
I did do some rudimentary research and it seems there's an Engineering company in Troon. There's still an operational wet dock and dry dock. So it seems the company must have a contract for maintainance on Calmac ships. I've seen two or three different vessels varying from smaller ships to ones like the size of the Ardrossan-Arran ferry.
As a slight off topic, P&O operate their Seacat from there, those things are damned noisy. I don't imagine that there will be a luxury housing development down Troon harbour anytime soon.
The RMT and TSSA can look forward to nice Christmas card and festive 'bottle' at the end of the years, from all their friends
Outer Hebrides Tourism (OHT) said the situation came just weeks after disruption to sailings between Ullapool and Stornoway.
The service was affected by work to upgrade facilities at the two ports.
OHT said a survey of tourism businesses across the islands suggested 75% had reported a significant drop in trade during the start of the 2015 season. 'Totally unacceptable'
Chairman Ian Fordham said "It is totally unacceptable that hundreds of our tourism businesses, and thousands of our visitors should be made to suffer as a result of this dispute.
"Action has been too little, too late."
I'm still waiting for a strike that isn't timed to hit the holiday periods (they killed the ferry service one year when I was due to travel for Christmas and New Year holiday - holiday cancelled, thanks RMT), or the tourist season, usually the start, as we are seeing in this example.
Bet you thought I was kidding when I said Mr Abramovich had gone 'Doon the Watter' for his holidays
Mr Abramovich appears to be holidaying on the island. I saw him last night walking his dog around town (well trying to, people kept asking him for pics). And today he was cycling round the island with his bodyguards .