Union warns of severe disruption if next week’s talks fail

Woolwich FerryWoolwich ferry workers have overwhelmingly backed strike action in a dispute with the operator Briggs Marine over pay disparities and the use of agency staff.

The 100% ‘Yes’ vote for strike action by Unite members, who include crew, electricians and road traffic teams, could cause significant disruption to the Woolwich / Greenwich Thames river crossing if talks planned for later this month fail to reach agreement.

Negotiations to resolve the dispute over pay disparities, the use of agency staff and the operator’s mis-interpretation of its sick pay policy are set to take place on January 28th.

The strike ballot was sparked by Briggs Marine’s attempts to ride roughshod over long standing agreements and practices, including the extension of sick pay payments in exceptional cases, which threaten a serious loss of earnings for the former Greenwich council workers.

Unite regional officer Onay Kasab said: “Unite welcomes Briggs Marine’s commitment to talks but warns that strike action remains firmly on the cards after the strong vote in favour of strike action.

“Our members couldn’t be clearer. A 100% vote in favour of strike action is a vote against Briggs Marine’s heavy handed attempts to bully workers into accepting attacks to long standing agreements and practices that must not be ignored.

“The decision to take strike action is never easy. Unite has a proud track record of working with employers to resolve disputes and we believe that reaching a negotiated settlement to this dispute makes sense for our members and the company.”

The Woolwich Ferry Free service carries more than 3,500 vehicles and 5,000 passengers a day.

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Tim Lezard

Campaigning journalist, editor of @Union_NewsUK, NUJ exec member; lover of cricket, football, cycling, theatre and dodgy punk bands

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