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CalMac is opening a new customer service centre in Stornoway, bringing a handful of new jobs to the town.
The ferry operator’s customer service team is boosted by additional staff over the busy summer months but this year five of these seasonal jobs will be based in the Western Isles.
The team will help to handle some of the 300,000 plus calls and 44,000 emails the company receives every year.
CalMac has pledged to look at ways of spreading support function staff more evenly around its area of operations.
Comhairle nan Eilean Siar has welcomed the announcement with councillor Uisdean Robertson, chairman of the Comhairle’s Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, saying: ‘The impact of salaries in the Western Isles is much greater on the local economy than in the central belt and I would call on CalMac to give serious consideration to further devolution and relocation of jobs into the Islands.
‘We would reiterate our suggestion that each and every island should have a fair share of central jobs and head office functions including senior management roles and would ask that the practice of centralisation of roles to a Head Office will cease and future vacancies will be advertised on a network wide basis instead of Head Office with a target of 30 per cent of these jobs being based in the Western Isles by 2030. Not only would such a move be an economic boost but it would also continue to demonstrate CalMac’s commitment to the communities of the Islands.’
CalMac currently employs around 1,700 people from Campbeltown in the south to Stornoway in the north, 60 per cent of whom live in fragile coastal or island communities. Last year they carried more than 5.2 million passengers on their fleet of 33 vessels across 26 routes to island and remote mainland destinations making the company the UK’s largest ferry and harbour operator.
‘We are on record as saying we will look at boosting job numbers within the islands we support when the opportunity arises, and this pilot is an important first step on this journey,’ said CalMac’s managing director, Robbie Drummond.
‘Although this may seem a modest move, it is a firm reinforcement that we are taking our communities wishes to see more support service jobs spread around our network seriously.’