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Woolwich Ferry staff to strike over racism and pay dispute

PUBLISHED: 12:00 04 December 2019

The woolwich ferry service runs between Newham and Greenwich. Picture: Ian West/PA Images

The woolwich ferry service runs between Newham and Greenwich. Picture: Ian West/PA Images

PA Archive/PA Images

Workers are to stage a 24 hour strike over pay amid criticism Woolwich Ferry bosses have failed to deal with racism claims.

A total of 56 members of union Unite are due to walk out on Thursday, December 19, claiming their employer failed to investigate after two workers reported a colleague repeatedly using a racial slur in the canteen.

Staff, employed by Briggs Marine, voted unanimously for the action which centres on members' calls to be paid the London living wage (£10.75).

Unite regional officer, Onay Kasab, said: "It is an understatement to say the management at Briggs Marine Contractors has a very poor record when it comes to employment relations.

"Unfortunately, bad employment practice seems endemic within the management team as they continue to ignore previous agreements on job evaluation and equalities, and they 'slice and dice' the pay of an already low-paid workforce."

A Briggs Marine spokeswoman said the company is in talks with Unite and working hard to ensure the public isn't inconvenienced by the union's threatened action.

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She added: "Unite's publicity is both factually incorrect and misleading. The company pays in excess of the London living wage, for all staff, as confirmed by the Living Wage Foundation."

The company has strong policies on dignity, equality and discrimination and has not received any claims from staff or Unite in the last year despite offering to investigate, she explained.

"Unite has repeatedly stated this is a 'pay dispute'. The company has made a comprehensive, long term offer Unite has said it wishes to discuss. We therefore find this threatened action unhelpful and call on Unite to continue working with us to avoid further disruption," the spokeswoman said.

But Mr Kasab said: "Unite will not stand by and allow this horror show of employment practice to continue. It is high time Transport for London reviewed its contract with this notorious employer.

"Unfortunately, it is the travelling public who will bear the brunt of the company's unacceptable behaviour to staff."

A TfL spokeswoman said: "We urge Briggs Marine and Unite to sit down and talk through the issues to try and resolve them as soon as possible."

An estimated 2.6million passengers use the ferry every year.

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