Unite the union has successfully negotiated that members working on the Woolwich Ferry will receive 100 per cent of their pay, if they are furloughed while there is a reduced service due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Unite is currently in talks with Briggs Marine Contractors Ltd as to how many of its 56 members will be furloughed as the service is now reduced to one boat instead of two as passenger travel in London plummets.
Unite regional officer Onay Kasab said: “This agreement shows once again the vital role that unions have to play in protecting jobs, pay and conditions. Where we are organised, we have been able to ensure that our members are protected during the course of the pandemic.
“This particular ‘win’ is an excellent example for contractors with public service contracts to follow – it shows that there is no excuse for cutting pay and jobs.”
In recent years, the company has been embroiled in a number of industrial disputes – the latest one 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 has suspended the threat of strike action in this dispute because of coronavirus. The running of Woolwich Ferry is due to be brought under the control of Transport for London (TfL) by the end of 2020.
In normal times 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.