The introduction of new hybrid boats on the Woolwich Ferry could be disrupted when the service reopens on the 31 December, Unite the union warned today (Monday 19 November) ahead of a ballot for strike action over the imposition of a new shift system resulting in significant cuts to overtime pay for weekend working.

Ballot papers for the strike vote, involving four Unite members employed as engineers and electricians by Briggs Marine Contractors Limited on the Woolwich ferry, are expected to be dispatched tomorrow (Tuesday 20 November) with the postal ballot closing on Tuesday 4 December.

Workers have grown increasingly frustrated by ferry bosses’ refusal to discuss the introduction of the shift system which could leave them as much as £1,000 per month worse off because of cuts to overtime at weekends.

There are also concerns over the employer’s refusal to discuss and address the health and safety impact of lone working, under-staffing and the outsourcing of work to subcontractors.

Commenting Unite regional officer Onay Kasab said: “Bosses at Briggs Marine who run the Woolwich Ferry have consistently failed to discuss our members’ concerns and instead are trying to railroad through changes which could leave them up to £1,000 out of pocket per month.

“Management’s high handed attitude and cost cutting agenda could ultimately result in a poorer service and provoke strike action that would disrupt the launch of new hybrid boats when the service reopens on new year’s eve.
“We would urge ferry bosses to recognise the depth of anger among our members and start to address their concerns.”


For more information please contact Alex Flynn Unite head of media and campaigns on 020 3371 2066 or 07967 665869 

Notes to editors:

  • Unite represents workers in Britain and Ireland with members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.