Shetland Islands Council may set up an arms length company to run its inter island ferries in a bid to stave off potential competition on the route, while saving the authority $1 million over three years. Councilors will decide whether to implement proposals put forward by a working group which has spent the past year examining ways of improving the SIC's expensive ferry service. Proposals include setting up a private firm to run the ferries, employing crews through an offshore company and reducing staff at the ferry operations center, at Sella Ness.
Consultants Strategic Transport Solutions
(STS) have advised that the council could save money by creating an independent company which would not have to maintain wages at local authority levels through the single status agreement. The crew could also be employed via an offshore company, which would mean the employers would not have to pay national insurance contributions. The council would have to hand over the running of the ferries to the new Shetland Transport Partnership
, who in turn may be forced to put the service out to competitive tender. The ferries task force, which has been meeting since January 2005, also wants to redesign the management structure of the service, getting rid of four superintendent posts through natural wastage, while creating three new positions for a fleet safety officer, resources coordinator and customer/IT coordinator. The biggest savings would be achieved through new staffing arrangements, including a reduction in overtime.
(Source: Shetland News)