Thumping pay rises end years of strikes on the Woolwich Ferry

Woolwich Ferry
Ferry workers will pick up double-digit pay rises, Unite says

Years of strikes and industrial unrest on the Woolwich Ferry are at an end, union bosses say, with workers given double-digit pay rises by Transport for London.

Workers had complained of low pay and bullying on the free ferry, which was brought in-house by TfL in 2021 after problems under its previous operator, Briggs Marine.

The ferry, which has also suffered problems because of the botched replacement of its 1960s vessels with new boats, was recently cut back to a one-boat, weekday-only service. But the new deal suggests that weekend operations are due to resume.

Car park assistants will get a 26 per cent increase from this April, with an additional 7 per cent to recognise weekend working. Some senior deckhands will get 18 per cent rises, while vessel crews will get an extra 10 per cent to recognise night working.

Unite’s general secretary, Sharon Graham, said: “Our members’ long-running campaign for fair pay has succeeded. At long last TfL has agreed to a pay deal which puts an end to years of industrial unrest on the Thames.

“This agreement would not have been possible without the steely determination of the workforce and their preparedness for strike action. It’s more evidence that Unite is continuing to deliver better jobs, terms and conditions for its members.”

Woolwich Ferry picket line
There have been years of strikes on the Woolwich Ferry

Onay Kasab, the union’s lead national officer, said: “This is a hard fought win that has only come about after our members took significant periods of strike action.

“While some outstanding issues still need to be resolved, Unite has ensured that there is a genuine review process in place so we can continue to push on these additional areas. What’s absolutely crucial here is that Unite has once again secured a double digit pay increase for our members in the midst of a cost of living crisis.”

The ferry was closed last month for more than two weeks to try to fix further issues with the introduction of the new boats, which cost £10 million each and were brought into service three years ago. In November 2019 Sadiq Khan, the London mayor, admitted that TfL had “dropped the ball“ and the new vessels “aren’t good enough”.

In January, the deputy leader of Greenwich Council called the current service “very shoddy”.

The ferry is due to be pressed into weekend service at the end of this month when the southbound Blackwall Tunnel is closed on March 31 and April 1 to enable a new footbridge to be installed as part of Silvertown Tunnel construction works.

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