Unions welcome Woolwich Ferry insourcing

Unions have welcomed the announcement the Woolwich Ferry service is to be brought in-house to Transport for London by the end of the year.

The service had been beset by service delays, cancellations and failures. While the full details of the insourcing arrangement are being finalised, TSSA’s general secretary Manuel Cortes said he hoped the move will “set a trend by which London’s entire transport network is brought back in-house”.

He said: “This is good news for commuters and staff of the Woolwich Ferry service. We hope this sets a trend by which London’s entire transport network is brought back in-house so it can be run in the interests of Londoners not shareholders.

“In example after example, we see that private operators cannot be trusted with our transport network. From rail to water and road, public transport must be owned by and run in the public interest.”

Unite regional officer Onay Kasab said: “Unite warmly welcomes the decision that will see the vital Woolwich Ferry being brought back under the control of TfL by the end of the year.

“We have been campaigning for this contract to come back under TfL’s auspices for some time and today’s announcement is a victory for our campaign.

“The Briggs Marine contract has been dogged by continuing controversy and atrocious employment relations.

“We are glad that TfL has concluded that taking the operation and maintenance in-house would ensure a higher level of control and   improve services to the thousands of Londoners that use the service every day.”

The workforce is due to hold two 24 hour strikes on Friday 28 February and then on Friday 13 March in the latest dispute which centres on the failure to pay the London living wage (currently £10.75 an hour) on basic pay; the imposition of changes to overtime and shift working; failure to adhere to the agreed job evaluation scheme; and failure to deal with equality issues.

Onay Kasab added: “We recognise that we are now entering into a new industrial relations’ environment with this news today and we are prepared to suspend these two strikes if TfL engages directly with us to resolve these outstanding issues.

“We are keen to engage constructively with TfL management so that the Woolwich Ferry can be operated in a fashion that truly benefits the users and the workforce.”

About 20,000 vehicles a week use the free service across the Thames which opened in 1889, following the abolition of tolls across bridges to the west of London. An estimated 2.6 million passengers also use the ferry annually.

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

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