BY KIRO EVANS, Local Democracy Reporter
Woolwich Ferry staff have suspended strikes as they attempt to continue talks with Transport for London (TfL).
The move comes after months of disruption as the ferry was put out of service three-days-a-week.
Unite the union said it was putting forward proposals to transport bosses to kick-start meaningful talks over “poor employment relations”. TfL has owned and run the ferry since January 2021.
Unite say six workers, including two Unite members, still remained “unfairly” suspended by the time the strikes ended at the end of March.
From January 24, the Woolwich ferry, a free transport service which links Woolwich to North Woolwich over the River Thames, had seen its operation disrupted over the dispute.
Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday saw no boats cross the River Thames, much to the frustration of regular commuters.
Along with issues over employee relations, workers have also called for a pay hike, the end of the excessive use of agency stuff, and criticised TfL over an alleged failure to provide adequate health and safety training to new employees.
Unite national lead officer Onay Kasab said: “This bitter dispute has once again reached a point where the employer has the opportunity to consider what are reasonable and workable proposals from Unite.
“We are committed to engaging in meaningful negotiations – but this requires the employer to do the same for the talks to succeed.
“Our commitment is demonstrated by our suspension of action to allow for talks.”
Mr Kasab told in January about the issues staff were facing, and the importance of a pay rise for the lowest paid workers.
He said: “Those men and women are working in London and their pay is £20,000. So they are doing that job, out in the cold, a full working week and earning £20,000 in basic pay.
“Employers are willing to raise that to £23k or £24k, but they want them to work longer hours and more weekends to get it.
“We don’t accept that, but we’re willing to be reasonable and compromise. If they’re willing to increase the offer – and this isn’t cloud cuckoo land for someone with a family in London – to more along the lines of £30,000.
“If you look at the work these people are doing as well, as a safety critical job, it is not an unreasonable claim on behalf of these people.
“It’s what our car park people have asked for, and they said if you give us that then we’re prepared to do your longer hours and weekends.”
A spokesman for TfL said: “We welcome the news that Unite has suspended their plans for further strike action and discussions remain ongoing to find a resolution as soon as possible.”
Pictured: Woolwich Ferry