Unite, the country’s biggest union, is today (6 January) calling on the operator of the Woolwich Free Ferry Service, Briggs Marine to get around the negotiating table to avoid major disruption to users of the popular Thames river crossing as a strike ballot of ferry workers opens.
Around 27 ferry workers, including the ship’s crew, electricians and road traffic teams are being balloted for strike action over pay disparities, the use of agency staff and operator Briggs Marine’s mis-interpretation of its sick pay policy. The ballot closes on Friday 16 January.
Unite has accused Briggs Marine of riding roughshod over long standing agreements and practices including the extension of sick pay payments in exceptional cases, resulting in a potential serious loss of earnings.
The former Greenwich council workers are losing out financially after the operator unilaterally decided that it would no longer replicate pay awards made to council staff or allow permanent staff to work overtime with agency staff being used instead.
Onay Kasab, Unite regional officer, said: “Our members have had enough of Briggs Marine’s continual failure to deal with very serious long-standing grievances. Its refusal to abide by its own sickness pay policy means that a worker off sick with cancer has been told to repay sick pay payments, going against the company’s own procedures.
“The ferry workers are angry at the way in which the operator is riding roughshod over long standing agreements and practices. The operator’s use of agency staff rather than allowing permanent staff to do the work in overtime and its refusal to replicate the pay awards made to council staff as has previously been the case is what has sparked the dispute.
“Unite is calling on Briggs Marine to come to its senses and get around the negotiating table to settle this dispute.”
A ‘yes’ vote in the industrial action ballot will shut down the popular river crossing service which carries more than 3,500 vehicles and 5,000 passengers a day, Unite has warned.
For more information please contact, Unite campaigns officer Chantal Chegrinec on 07774 146 777 or the Unite press office on 0203 371 2065
Twitter: @unitetheunion Facebook: unitetheunion1
- Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey