Letters to the editor -
Recently, there were comments made by callers on a Newfoundland VOCM open line show with respect to the cleanliness of Marine Atlantic's vessels and the attitude of its employees.
I am the president of CAW Local 4285, and represent the unlicensed vessel employees at Marine Atlantic.
I would like to emphasize that all employees at Marine Atlantic are highly trained professionals with a strong focus on safety, customer service and satisfaction.
I realize the recent mechanical issues with the Joseph and Clara Smallwood resulted in delays and the decision to re-route passenger traffic from Argentia to Port aux Basques.
That decision was made in order to mitigate the total impact on the summer schedule, and this caused frustration and inconvenience for travellers.
The employees empathize with these frustrations and do their utmost to provide a comfortable and pleasant experience for their customers.
Therefore, I feel it is unfair for negative comments to be directed at employees who are working under circumstances that are beyond their control.
With regard to the comments made on cleanliness, the vessels are kept clean and maintained on a regular basis.
The age of the Caribou and Smallwood lends to the fact that their appearance is somewhat dated and could be viewed by some as substandard.
The recent announcement by the government of fleet renewal has led to a decision by Marine Atlantic not to invest additional monies in refurbishments, as the vessels will soon be retired from the service.
The addition of the two new vessels to the service in 2011 will hopefully address the ongoing issues of reliability and capacity, and the employees will continue, as always, to maintain their strong customer service ethic.
president, CAW Local 4285