‘Ferry companies need to take on the issues of pay, discipline and restrictive practices if they are to improve marginal profitability and service standards, according to a United Kingdom based industry expert.
Bill Moses, who has worked in the industry for over 30 years, says pay and related issues have long been a key factor in the development of the ferry business. "It is something employers should not shy away from," he says.
Mr Moses’ own experience in labour affairs is long and impressive. He has achieved results with minimal dispute, interruption to service and unnecessary loss of face for trade unions, management and employees. Much of this has been achieved in negotiations with some of the toughest unions in Europe.
One of his major successes was at the old Sealink company where there was a need to change agreements, working practices and contracts. He was also responsible for cutting the company’s national workforce.
Mr Moses owns and runs Ferry Management Services, a "one stop shop" covering all aspects of ferry industry operation including labour relations. In his earlier days he managed a number of short sea ferry operations, notably Sealink, Stena Line, Hoverspeed and Sally Line.
He says employee costs are "back in the news" as ferry companies on both sides of the Atlantic wrestle with marginal results. "Others will doubtless soon be faced with yet another annual stand-off with their troops."
He also gives a warning that Viking Line’s cut in on board alcohol prices - to match shore side prices - is likely to bring to a head at long last the cost of employment for all operators in the Baltic trade.
In spite of this cut Mr Moses predicts that duty-free sales on Baltic ferries will "plummet" as the Finns head to cut-price Estonia to buy their liquor. ‘