Woolwich Ferry workers to strike tomorrow, as more strike dates are announced

Woolwich Ferry workers will strike tomorrow (Friday 13 March) in their long-running pay dispute, as two more days of strike action are announced.

Unite, Britain and Ireland’s largest union, represents 56 workers who will hold a 24 hour strike tomorrow in their dispute with Briggs Marine Contractors Ltd.

The workers will also hold two more 24 hour strikes on 27 March and 6 April. They have already taken a day’s strike action on 28 February.

The company’s contract to run the ferry has been controversial in recent years and has resulted in Transport for London (TfL) taking over the running of the Woolwich Ferry, used by an estimated 2.6 million passengers annually. The TfL takeover is due to be completed by the end of the year.

The latest dispute centres on the failure to pay the London living wage (currently £10.75 an hour) on basic pay; the imposition of changes to overtime and shift working; failure to adhere to the agreed job evaluation scheme; and failure to deal with equality issues.

Unite regional officer Onay Kasab said: “Even in the dying days of its contract Briggs Marine Contractors has acted true to type and refused to negotiate in a constructive fashion.

“The company’s hard line has resulted in tomorrow’s strike action which will cause, regrettably, travel inconvenience to thousands of Londoners. If there is no movement by the bosses, two more days of strike action are on the cards.

“As far as Unite is concerned we can’t wait for the vital Woolwich Ferry being brought back under the control of TfL by the end of the year.

“We are glad that TfL has concluded that taking the operation and maintenance in-house would ensure a higher level of control and   improved services.”

About 20,000 vehicles a week use the free service across the Thames which opened in 1889, following the abolition of tolls across bridges to the west of London. An estimated 2.6 million passengers also use the ferry annually. There has been a ferry in place at the site since the 14th century.

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