Union plans strikes till spring to bring Fri­day fer­ries to halt

The Wharf - - The Week - Giles Broad­bent

Woolwich Ferry work­ers plan to take strike ac­tion, af­fect­ing the cross-river ser­vice for 12 Fri­days right into spring.

The Unite union said 88% of its 36 mem­bers voted for ac­tion which be­gins with a 24-hour strike on Fri­day, Jan­uary 27, and will con­tinue ev­ery Fri­day un­til April 14. They are protest­ing about what they claim is a fail­ure to stick to agree­ments, health and safety wor­ries and a cul­ture of bul­ly­ing and sex­ual ha­rass­ment.

Briggs Marine Con­trac­tors Ltd, which op­er­ates the ser­vice on be­half of TfL de­nies the claims.

More than 3,500 car jour­neys as well as foot pas­sen­gers and cy­clists rely on the ferry each day. It is par­tic­u­larly pop­u­lar with lorry driv­ers who are height-re­stricted by the Black­wall Tun­nel.

Unite re­gional of­fi­cer Onay Kasab said: “There is a very un­pleas­ant cul­ture of bul­ly­ing and ha­rass­ment at this com­pany, in­clud­ing se­ri­ous al­le­ga­tions of a sex­ual na­ture made by one of our fe­male mem­bers.

“The large ma­jor­ity for 12 days of strike ac­tion un­der­pins our mem­bers’ anger at the com­pany cul­ture.

“We ac­cept that the strikes will cause se­ri­ous dis­rup­tion. How­ever, the ball is very much in the court [of Briggs]. The bosses need to ad­dress th­ese se­ri­ous al­le­ga­tions ur­gently, if strike ac­tion is to be averted.

A spokes­woman from Briggs Marine said: “We do not recog­nise the is­sues set out in Unite’s state­ment and we have again re­quested talks with the unions to seek res­o­lu­tion. Most im­por­tantly, we will do every­thing we can to avoid in­con­ve­nience to the pub­lic.”

A TfL spokesman said: “We urge Briggs Marine and Unite and GMB to re­solve this dis­pute as quickly as pos­si­ble to avoid any dis­rup­tion for Lon­don­ers.”

The ferry ser­vice sur­vived a threat from the Mayor of Lon­don’s east Lon­don cross­ings pack­age and will soon see two new greener fer­ries come into ser­vice, re­plac­ing the three cur­rently in ro­ta­tion.

Woolwich Ferry

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