The victimisation of two Unite trade union reps by the management of the Woolwich Ferry has reached ‘obscene levels’, the union said today (Tuesday 6 July).

Unite the union said the case of the victimisation of reps at Woolwich Ferry, at the epicentre of a long-running industrial dispute, was one of the worst currently on Unite’s ‘books’ and called on the Transport for London (TfL) bosses at the ferry ‘to drag themselves into the 21st century in terms of progressive employment relations’.

A total of 57 Unite members are taking part in a rolling programme of strike action this month over the victimisation issue; failure to agree a new pay and reward scheme; the excessive use of agency staff; and the failure to provide adequate health and safety training to new employees – these are issues which have arisen since TfL took back control from the discredited Briggs Marine Contractors Ltd in January this year.

The next 24 hour strikes are scheduled for 9,12,16,19,23,26 and 30 July.

Unite regional officer Onay Kasab said: “Unite now has two reps representing our members at the ferry operation who have been through a gruelling – and unjustified - disciplinary process. 

“We believe that they have been ‘picked on’ by management for carrying out legitimate trade union activities as enshrined in law. We are calling for these two written warnings issued to our reps individually to be erased from their exemplary work records. 

“Unite deals with a myriad of victimisation cases of its reps and members across the UK on a daily basis. However, I believe what is happening at the ferry is one of the worst currently on Unite’s ‘books’. The TfL bosses at the ferry need to drag themselves into the 21st century in terms of progressive employment relations. 

“Our reps are innocent of any allegations, yet they have had to cope with the stress that comes with false allegations and victimisation. For them, it is not about using disciplinary action as a bargaining chip which appears to be the view of the management. For them, it is about their work record, stress and the worry, which also affects their families – TfL now needs to do the right thing. 

“Unite will not stand by while our reps are victimised. We will take action and defend those who put their heads above the parapet by becoming reps. 

“A forward looking management would come to the negotiating table to resolve the victimisation issues and the other matters at the centre of this dispute. If they decline, there will be more strike action into the autumn causing increasing travel disruption to the commuters using the ferry as the ‘return to the office’ gathers pace.” 

Before the pandemic struck at the beginning of 2020 about 20,000 vehicles a week were using the free service across the Thames which opened in 1889, following the abolition of tolls across bridges to the west of London. Pre-Covid-19, an estimated 2.6 million passengers also used the ferry annually.

There has been a ferry in place at the site since the 14th century. 


Notes to editors:

For more information please contact Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble on 020 3371 2060 or 07768 693940. Unite press office is on:  020 3371 2065

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @unitetheunion Facebook: unitetheunion1 Web: 

Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest union with members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.