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Woolwich ferry workers to strike

PUBLISHED: 12:12 11 March 2019

One of the new Woolwich Ferries. Picture: Awil Mohamoud

One of the new Woolwich Ferries. Picture: Awil Mohamoud

Archant

Workers on the Woolwich ferry have voted to strike.

Members of the trade union Unite have taken the measure following the introduction of new boats and a restructure.

Unite says the dispute is over the refusal by Briggs Marine (the company that runs the ferry) to meaningfully negotiate changing roles, pay, safety and staffing.

The workers have also said there is a culture of bullying. A 2017 strike saw them walk out over the same issue and the sexual harassment of a female employee.

The two-day action saw one manager dismissed following a disciplinary hearing and another voluntarily leaving the site.

The female union member was given a ‘fair’ settlement.

Greenwich Unite branch secretary Danny Hoggan said: “It is fitting and proper that today we pay tribute to Unite members who have taken action in the workplace against sexual harassment.

“But it is also sad yet predictable that management on the Woolwich Ferry appear not to have learnt any lessons. The management claim that they apply a zero tolerance policy towards bullying.

“Words are cheap – it is action that counts. I am proud that it is our members who are prepared to take action”

It is not yet clear when the strike will happen or how long it will last.

A spokeswoman for Briggs Marine said the company had worked out pay and conditions well ahead of the new ferries: “The company has invested heavily in training and development of its staff and staffing levels are widely agreed.

“Briggs will continue to talk to the unions involved and will always work hard to prevent disruption to the travelling public.”

She also said staffing levels meet legal requirements and international standards.

A TfL spokesperson said: “We urge all parties to sit down and talk through the issues to try and resolve them as soon as possible.”

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