Woolwich Ferry workers going on strike again after 'pay dispute' negotiations break down
PUBLISHED: 17:24 18 December 2019 | UPDATED: 17:25 18 December 2019
Woolwich Ferry workers will go on strike tomorrow (December 19) after last-ditch talks in a dispute over pay and conditions broke down.
The 24-hour strike by 56 workers, who are members of union Unite, was threatened two weeks ago before negotiations with employer Briggs Marine on Monday (December 16) failed to reach a resolution.
Unite says the dispute involves calls for basic pay at the London living wage (£10.75 an hour), changes to overtime and shift working, as well as perceived failures to deal with equality issues and to investigate complaints of racism.
Briggs Marine has described claims made by the union as "factually incorrect and misleading".
The latest disruption follows 10 days of strikes in the summer over similar issues.
Unite regional officer Onay Kasab said: "Unite entered talks (on Monday) in the hope that the employer would adopt a constructive approach.
"Instead the company made vague proposals for yet another restructuring - the last so-called 'restructuring' saw the workforce cut by a third.
"Also, the management gave no figures and refused to deal with the issue of racism."
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Mr Kasab added they were asked to agree to a reduction in opportunities to work overtime and to accept a new pay structure with no figures attached, which they refused.
Briggs Marine declined to comment when contacted by the Recorder this week.
After the strike was announced on December 2, a Briggs Marine spokeswoman told the Recorder the company pays "in excess of the London living wage" for all staff.
She said: "The company has strong policies in relation to dignity, equality and against discrimination in all forms and has not received any claim from our staff or Unite in this regard in the last year, despite our offer to investigate this independently.
"Unite has repeatedly stated that this is a 'pay dispute'. In this regard, the company has made a comprehensive, progressive and long term offer that Unite has said it wishes to discuss further."
Unite has previously claimed that the company takes into account additional payments such as overtime in its calculations of the London living wage.
The striking union members voted unanimously in favour of tomorrow's action.
Mr Kasab said: "We regret the inconvenience that the strike will cause the ferry's users, but our members feel they have been backed into a corner by a hardline management."
It's estimated that 20,000 vehicles a week and 2.6million passengers per year use the free ferry across the Thames.