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JadeFalcon
May 3, 2015, 4:01pm Report to Moderator Report to Moderator

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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?
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May 3, 2015, 4:11pm Report to Moderator Report to Moderator

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Offhand, I have never heard of ANY route dropping, but CalMac has many haters that will spread or start gossip.

CalMac operates as a non-profit state-subsidised carrier, and that is because its routes are considered 'Lifeline' services, so legislation applies to any changes.

If something such as the Ardrossan/Arran run was being cut, there would be major news coverage.

And they've just started a brand new service trial too.

Troon's just out of my sight

Check CalMac's own web site.

It generally carries news of any disposition of  craft as it happens (mobile alerts too, but that is meaningless to me ), regarding transfers, disruptions, or changes.

I used to monitor other sites by CalMac ferry 'watchers' - usually faster than the real site

But with little chance of being on one, I kind of let that die away naturally.
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May 3, 2015, 4:26pm Report to Moderator Report to Moderator

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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.
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JadeFalcon
May 3, 2015, 4:26pm Report to Moderator Report to Moderator

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I have a feeling theres a refit dock in the site of the old Ailsa shipyards, and it might be some sort of service and repair, but I never recall seeing a Calmac vessel in Troon.
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May 3, 2015, 4:30pm Report to Moderator Report to Moderator

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Currently:

Ferry operator CalMac is making temporary changes to its Arran services to ensure adequate capacity over the May 2015 holiday weekend.

Due to a technical issue with the MV Isle of Arran the Ardrossan-Brodick route will be served by a single vessel the MV Caledonian Isles.


No link, as current news changes
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May 3, 2015, 5:14pm Report to Moderator Report to Moderator

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Oh dear...

This is bad - VERY bad.

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 )
Quoted Text
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.”

Solitary challenger in contest for CalMac contract - The Scotsman
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May 4, 2015, 7:05pm Report to Moderator Report to Moderator

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Well, would you believe it?

ANOTHER spooky coincidence

The very day after I mention the crazy takeover of the northwest coast ferry operation by Serco...

And it#s in the news for being... suspect?
Quoted Text
THE Rail, Maritime and Transport union has called for an inquiry into the awarding of the NorthLink ferry contract to Serco following claims the losing state-owned operator lodged a lower bid.

The union said the “murky events cast a shadow” over the battle for the next CalMac contract, being fought by Serco and David MacBrayne.

MacBrayne is the Scottish Government-owned parent company of both CalMac and the former NorthLink operator.

Streamline Shipping, another NorthLink bidder, is suing the Scottish Government in the Court of Session over its handling of the tender process.

Government agency Transport Scotland said the tender process in 2012 was “fair, balanced and properly conducted within strict procurement rules.”

Its spokesman said MacBrayne’s bid “simply did not meet the required quality score and consequently was failed.”

Inquiry call into ferry contract award - The Scotsman

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.
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May 14, 2015, 5:21pm Report to Moderator Report to Moderator

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Off we go again, and the union that claims it never intends to inconvenience, disrupt, or upset travellers with its actions is off on the strike trail again.

In passing, the RMT is also 'not inconveniencing travellers' by calling an overtime ban on the trains:

Glasgow Central Station commuters face disruption - The Scotsman

But the real issue...

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.

Guess what?

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?

CalMac ferries threatened by strike ballot - The Scotsman
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May 27, 2015, 5:35pm Report to Moderator Report to Moderator

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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:

Inquiry call into ferry contract award - The Scotsman

(It's really a waste of time and money, with one other party, nobody really wants this, I would not be surprised if Serco pulls out at the last minute.)

Solitary challenger in contest for CalMac contract - The Scotsman

I always wonder that the CalMac hate, despite running quite well (and that is just MY opinion), and apparently bringing £270 million into the economy - I think the haters are actually jealous:

CalMac 'supports turnover of £270m in Scots companies' - BBC News

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”.

Sounds more like a broken union record to me

CalMac ferries threatened by strike ballot - The Scotsman

RMT’s CalMac strike ballot opens - The Buteman

RMT playing deaf and dumb?

David MacBrayne Ltd: ‘We would urge RMT to meet with us’ - The Buteman

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.

CalMac says sorry for Rothesay ferry breakdown - The Buteman

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!

Last word to a former CalMac skipper:

Skipper defends Rothesay ferries’ record - The Buteman
Quoted Text
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.”
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May 28, 2015, 11:50pm Report to Moderator Report to Moderator

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Well, there you are...

Another coincidence - the day after I mention CalMac, ferries, and the weather

Apparently the good folk of Barra want their ferries to run on time - regardless of weather or safety.

Bad weather increasingly affecting ferries, says CalMac - BBC News
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June 10, 2015, 8:43pm Report to Moderator Report to Moderator

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The ferry 'race' is down to the usual two.

Normally, I'd predict SerCo to be set to suddenly pull out for no apparent reason.

But - politics

I'm not so sure today.

CalMac and Serco asked to continue Clyde and Hebrides bids - BBC News
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June 12, 2015, 12:56am Report to Moderator Report to Moderator

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You'd laugh if it wasn't so damned tragic.

CalMac and SerCo are in the tendering process for the ferry contract...

And the RMT is 'sweetening the deal' by holding a strike with the incumbent:

RMT union members vote for CalMac strike - BBC News

I'm tempted to make a prediction about the outcome, but I just did that
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June 15, 2015, 3:47pm Report to Moderator Report to Moderator

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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:

Brian Wilson: CalMac ferries face being cut adrift - The Scotsman
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JadeFalcon
June 15, 2015, 5:32pm Report to Moderator Report to Moderator

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Indeed, the comments section is so lickspittle pro SNP it's sickening.
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June 18, 2015, 12:05am Report to Moderator Report to Moderator

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So...

RMT union members at CalMac to take industrial action - BBC News

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?
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FordPerfect
June 18, 2015, 7:19am Report to Moderator Report to Moderator

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Crapita - not tendering  
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June 18, 2015, 7:48pm Report to Moderator Report to Moderator

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Oh goody!

We have reached 'Constructive'  

RMT and CalMac hold 'constructive talks' in ferry dispute - BBC News

Good chance talks will run to midnight on the 24th, with a last minute 'Agreement'.

Or...
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June 19, 2015, 8:50pm Report to Moderator Report to Moderator

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I think I should get in touch with Lego, and make sure they include some striking RMT figures if they produce a CalMac ferry set, and want it to be accurate

CalMac ferry set idea wins some Lego friends - BBC News



Could be good news for one of best flckr pool contributors, who just became 'famous' (and is just along the road too )

He could provide a set of 'Little People RMT strikers' to go with each set

I hope you have been watching the pool, and seen his contributions so far, (You have... HAVEN'T YOU? )


Got a mention in the Airdrie & Coatbridge Advertiser today.
by Stevie Spiers Photography http://www.steviespiersphotography.com/, on Flickr
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JadeFalcon
June 19, 2015, 9:51pm Report to Moderator Report to Moderator

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A spanish company using a construction set called Tente beat you to it years ago.

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June 19, 2015, 10:38pm Report to Moderator Report to Moderator

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That one came up earlier, didn't it

But...

It's not accurate

The vessel shown is clearly at sea, which is wrong.

It should be tied up in port, with a picket line of tiny RMT strikers forming a barrier around it and stopping it leaving port, or passengers getting near
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JadeFalcon
June 20, 2015, 5:18pm Report to Moderator Report to Moderator

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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.
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June 20, 2015, 6:14pm Report to Moderator Report to Moderator

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I don't know about the large ferries - oddly, the subject has not come up before - but the small ferries are generally serviced and maintained here:

Ardmaleish Boatbuilding —

You'll find quite a few pics of the wee ferries being worked on there in this gallery:

Calmac Ferries Photo Gallery by Zak at pbase.com

And, surprise, they found a drone lying about somewhere, and have this:



Now that you have raised it, I'll have to have think about the big ones now

Unless anyone looking in can give the definitive answer quickly, of course.
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June 25, 2015, 7:53pm Report to Moderator Report to Moderator

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What's better than one strike while a business id being tendered?

Why, TWO strikes of course!



TSSA to ballot members at CalMac on strike action - BBC News

The RMT and TSSA can look forward to nice Christmas card and festive 'bottle' at the end of the years, from all their friends
Quoted Text
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."

Me?

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.
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July 1, 2015, 5:31pm Report to Moderator Report to Moderator

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New operator  ,  Calmac blown out by international mafia    

New owner for Morton? Russian tycoon Roman Abramovich brings his yacht to Greenock - Daily Record
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July 1, 2015, 10:32pm Report to Moderator Report to Moderator

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Imagine if the RMT called a strike on his ferry company?

Strike called on Monday.

No strikers to be found anywhere on Tuesday, and RMT bosses announce they're winding up the union and emigrating.

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July 2, 2015, 7:27pm Report to Moderator Report to Moderator

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Well - look at that

Guess who goes 'Doon the Watter' for his holidays

And just look at the Rothesay car and passenger ferry dwarfed by his private Superyacht 'Eclipse'  



160621173 photo - Zak photos at pbase.com
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July 3, 2015, 2:47pm Report to Moderator Report to Moderator

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The RMT has a party...

The RMT brings more people to the party:

Ferry staff on CalMac and Argyll Ferries vessels to strike over jobs | Highlands & Islands | News

It doesn't want to inconvenience anybody, but waits until the tourist season...

And then we have to pay:

Call for tourists to be compensated after ferry strike disruption | Highlands & Islands | News

And the strike is not about something that has happened, but which the RMT THINKS (or claims) might happen when the ferry service tender is finalised.
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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
.

160627765 photo - Zak photos at pbase.com
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Well, look who made the local papers (I can also tell he he's gone, and now on Arran).

Abramovich megayacht cruises into Rothesay Bay - The Buteman

Seems he flew to Glasgow by private jet, and joined his yacht when he completed the journey by helicopter - the yacht has TWO helipads.

Roman in the gloamin’: Abramovich takes Rothesay evening stroll - The Buteman
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