Scottish Labour pushes their luck with the GMB, on ferries

For years now, Scottish Labour have been able to exploit workers, in care homes, in schools and in refuse collection, to try to score points against the Scottish Government and the SNP.

They’ve used links with trade union leaders, one married to Richard Leonard, to campaign against the interests and damaging the reputation of their workers

Judging by the above letter, it looks like they may now have pushed one group too far. Gary Cook of the GMB in Scotland, said in 2019:

“Nationalisation secures the immediate future of the yard and that is a very welcome development, particularly after all the recent uncertainty. Our members were caught in the middle of a situation that had nothing to do with them and their relief will be palpable. It is five years since the yard went bust and the Scottish Government has prevented that from happening again. We can now look to the future and everyone should do so with a sense of purpose. With vision and competency we can get on with building the ships Scotland needs and together we can grow jobs and prosperity on the lower Clyde.”

The GMB Scotland former leader and arch-Unionist, Gary Smith, now GMB General Secretary, won’t have liked that.

Readers might remember some of his earlier works (dirty). See: https://talkingupscotlandtwo.com/?s=Gary+Smith

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11 thoughts on “Scottish Labour pushes their luck with the GMB, on ferries

  1. Good to see a TU representative doing their job for a change and not trying to promote their personal political ambitions.
    Far too much of the latter over the years.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. The problem here is the almost visceral hatred Labour in Scotland have for the SNP, but in particular that they are in government in “their” Scotland.
    This is particularly true for such as Sarwar and Baillie. This hatred distorts their political judgement to the extent of the above letter – it is really NOT a good idea to get on the wrong side of someone like Gary Cook to this degree.
    Indeed I suspect not only Gary Cook, for given the man’s responsibilities how likely is he to have, on his own initiative a detailed knowledge of what is going on in Fergusons (indeed even know what it is/ where it is?). In this regard, for revenge is sweet, it is of course the case that Sarwar replaced Richard Leonard – the husband of a GMB official (as you note). I wonder how the GMB, particularly in Scotland, reacted to the efforts by the Sarwar camp to get Richard Leonard out? No inside info – just sayin’.
    But back to the ferries.
    The ferries are a bit more complex and this is more in the way of a hypothesis. The more elderly reading this will be aware that Caledonian McBrayne have been about as popular on the west coast/ isles as a dose of an anti social disease. Yet still they carry on. The questions, I would want answered are
    1. who ordained dual fuel and why? what was the justification?
    2. did CalMac support this? I think we know the answer to this – they did not. CalMac are really quite dogmatic – they take decisions and never seek to justify them. For instance the types of ferries they want to order have been heavily criticised by user groups as well as Prof Alf Baird. It makes no odds to CalMac.
    3. if CalMac were not content with the proposed ferries but were faced with a situation they could not change, did they deliberately sabotage the contracts. Think back to when Fergusons got the job – their public image was one of a highly skilled and innovative yard that had been pulled back from the brink of disaster. This is consistent with the lionising of Jim McColl, but Fergusons were definitely not dead heads.
    In short, the focus is on the procedural issues of SG involvement in a contract that has clearly become a shambles, with little consideration to the more micro (and thus less media friendly because it’s too complex) issues of just why the contract went wrong. Of course this will be contended – in some cases perhaps rightly – but we can be pretty sure that CalMac wont just admit guilt, but perhaps it’s in the relationship between the yard and CalMac (as the customer) that we ought to be looking.

    Liked by 6 people

    1. ‘.. perhaps it’s in the relationship between the yard and CalMac (as the customer) that we ought to be looking.’ (Certainly between the yard and CMAL, formally the client.)

      I have referred in an earlier TuS blog post to the document entitled ‘Report and Financial Statements, 31 December 2016’ lodged by Ferguson Marine Engineering Limited (FMEL) with Companies House. This included a ‘Strategic Report’ which was signed off by an FMEL director on 14 December 2018.

      Taken from the section of the Strategic Report headed ‘Business Review’, what follows speaks to your comment above:

      Page 2: ‘The Directors believe that POST CONTRACT AWARD, variations, interference and disruption caused by the customer have resulted in additional unforeseen costs.’ (my emphasis)

      Page 3: ‘In the Directors opinion, the additional costs are a direct RESULT OF UNFORESEEN complexities.’

      Page 4: ‘In July 2017 the Directors entered into correspondence with CMAL on contract variations, which concluded in July 2018 with NO AGREEMENT FROM CMAL ON ANY OF THE VARIATIONS.

      ‘The Directors have therefore commissioned independent claim specialists to review the 801 and 802 contracts. The Directors are encouraged by the initial findings in support of a claim for a contract price increase and on that basis expect to submit the claim next month.

      ‘Should recoveries be obtained, the COMPANY IS CONTRACTUALLY OBLIGED TO REPAY THE SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT LOANS.’

      On the GMB letter, what specifically is being referred to as ‘their (the Scottish Government’s) poor governance’ as distinct from potentially deficient contract management by FMEL AND/OR CMAL? Is this ‘governance’ of the initial tendering/procurement process or ‘governance’ of the operational delivery of two hulls or somehow, both?

      Too often those seeking to hold the Scottish Government (SG) to account (for something) over the ‘ferries’ move up and down what is a complex chain of events – a chain which over time involved multiple/ different parties, including technical/maritime experts – in search of the knock-out blow on the SG!

      (The FMEL documentation can be found here: ‘Full Accounts made up to 31 December, 2016’ at https://find-and-update.company-information.service.gov.uk/company/SC485060/filing-history?page=2 ).

      Liked by 4 people

  3. Multimillionaire, privately educated Red Tories cares little for the working man (or woman, as we saw with Labour in Glasgow).
    They would rather burn down the house, than apply a lick of paint.

    In this arsony, they has the “Scottish” media giving him petrol and a match.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. My apologies in advance for the length-
    Were Gary Cook not so concerned over how it makes the Labour Party appear I’d agree to cracks appearing in “solidarity”, but Cook’s “the SNP’s poor handling of Hull 801 and 802” rather implies favouring the propaganda for political reasons, but suggesting it be better finessed.

    I was in the construction game long enough to realise how “off the record” hints or directions could complicate a project’s progress, yet what troubles me most in the Ferguson case is the attack lines all centre on the preliminaries to letting the Tender where the politicos and their assessors CAN have an influence, yet there is not the slightest hint of such interference once the Tender was signed off and let…

    The distinction is vital to understanding what actually went wrong was between CMAL the Client and FMEL, because it was in the construction phase it all went “tits up”, contractual issues bound by Contract Law with which NONE by law are permitted to interfere.
    In short the additional costs and delays pertaining to this Contract are a direct consequence of the Tender, in my view falsely submitted, the signatory on behalf of the Constructor one James McColl having never once been questioned by the BBC in Scotland or a single Politician as to why he knowingly submitted a false Tender.

    Perhaps Glenn could furnish us with an honest “In my opinion…” piece for a change if it doesn’t damage his pension arrangements.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Only once have I seen a coherent explanation as to why the delay and the additional expense has occurred and believe it or not that was provided by the UK Defence Journal. The problem sits with the original contract and where liabilities rest, I have little doubt that the SG where fully aware of those problems, but their priority was to save the yard and secure employment.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. “The problem sits with the original contract and where liabilities rest, I have little doubt that the SG where fully aware of those problems, but their priority was to save the yard and secure employment”

        When the contract went out to Tender, the contract terms and conditions and allocation of risks would be much as before, there was previous builder/client history, funding control and mechanisms were unchanged under SG – Only two key differences were in play, beneficial ownership of Ferguson, and political majority control in SG.
        There was nothing unusual in the safeguards put in place in lieu of guarantees which even the Audit Report acknowledged, that these proved inadequate in hindsight is why the Guarantees are now mandatory.

        The yard being nationalised by SG undoubtedly saved the yard in the latter stages, and under new project management the Contract is on track for completion in 2023.

        The extent to which poor project management or political chicanery were cause for the delays and consequent cost-overruns we may never fully understand, but of one thing I’m certain, it was not SG seeking to scupper this Contract.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. ‘.. explanation as to why the delay and the additional expense has occurred and believe it or not that was provided by the UK Defence Journal.’

        I have searched for this explanation on the Journal’s website without success yet. Any chance of you the link to the relevant source? If so, many thanks.

        I’m interested in comparing what the US Defence Journal has as an explanation with what I posted earlier in this thread from an FMEL document lodged with Companies House in 2018:

        From the section of the ‘Strategic Report’ headed ‘Business Review’:

        Page 2: ‘The Directors believe that POST CONTRACT AWARD, variations, interference and disruption caused by the customer have resulted in additional unforeseen costs.’ (my emphasis)

        Page 3: ‘In the Directors opinion, the additional costs are a direct RESULT OF UNFORESEEN complexities.’

        Liked by 1 person

  5. If/when Scotland does become independent then it needs the trade union movement on its side so that it doesn’t become another elitist and class divided country.
    Scotland has a long history when it comes to working people, sit-ins being just one example.
    An independent Scotland will also need to have real press freedom (note ROI has a higher ranking of press freedom than The UK)
    Instead of obsessing over what England is doing, politicians and ALL parties must be held to account with honest and truthful analysis, if it shows that The SNP, Labour, Tories etc… are wrong, so be it they must learn and be accountable.
    An independent Scotland, with its people and history etc… could be THE place to live.
    Punching down is the wrong way to go.

    Like

  6. It is SICKENING to hear and see this Decrepit bunch
    Trying throw mud onto the Trade unions who employ the card carrying members of LABOUR
    STARMER IS TRAINING THEM WELL

    Like

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