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Scottish government's chronic underfunding puts Orkney ferry services at risk, RMT warns

VITAL ferry services from mainland Scotland to the Orkney isles are under threat due to chronic underfunding by the Scottish government, the RMT union warned today.

Ferry services face a budget deficit of £1.6 million this year after decades of sustained cuts, the transport union said.

It has called on Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to intervene. The union warned that the “dire consequences” of failure to act would put the ferry links and workers’ jobs in jeopardy.

General secretary Mick Cash has written to Ms Sturgeon saying that Orkney Ferries faces a “perfect storm of ageing vessels, ageing crew and historic funding shortfalls.”

“We are now approaching the very real prospect of service and job cuts, as a direct result of the Scottish government’s failure to properly fund these lifeline ferry services for Orcadians,” he wrote.

Mr Cash said the union pledged to “fight with every tool at our disposal” to defend the services.

He added: “For too long the Scottish government has buried its head in the sand when it comes to investment and resourcing of the lifeline Orkney Ferry services, and things have now come to a head as the toxic combination of factors threatens the very viability of the operation and the livelihoods of the staff who deliver it.

“RMT is demanding that the budget shortfall is addressed immediately and that the union is consulted on a serious plan for the future that faces up to the reality of decades of underinvestment.”

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