Page last updated at 15:46 GMT, Thursday, 13 December 2012

Ministerial Statement: Northlink Ferries

Transport Minister Keith Brown urged the RMT and Serco to find a solution to the industrial dispute on Orkney and Shetland ferry routes which threatens 5 strike days, during a ministerial statement on 13 December 2012.

Mr Brown told MSPs : "The resolution of the current dispute is rightly a matter for the RMT union and the ferry operator, Serco NorthLink and I expect both parties to work in partnership to do all that they can to avoid disruption.

"I have spoken to both parties in an effort to facilitate constructive engagement and yesterday I also discussed the matter with the STUC.

"Even at this late stage I would urge the RMT and Serco to make every effort to find a solution with a view to minimising the disruption caused by any industrial action."

Members of the RMT union working on the Orkney and Shetland ferry routes voted for strike action after plans by new operators Serco Northlink Ferries to cut jobs.

The RMT said 108 votes were cast, and 95 said they were prepared to take strike action, with 13 against.

RMT general secretary Bob Crow said: "This ballot result shows that our members are prepared to fight for their future livelihoods. The result will now be considered by the RMT executive."

Stuart Garrett, managing director of Serco NorthLink Ferries, said: "NorthLink Ferries were advised of the outcome of the recent ballot today and remain hopeful that dialogue between the employer and the RMT, which has been on-going since 18 October, will continue with the objective of avoiding industrial action."

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