TfL prolonging Woolwich Ferry dispute

Unite raises safety concerns over poorly trained agency workers - TfL delays preventing the suspension of strike action

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Unite has written to London Assembly members to raise concerns about the use of poorly trained agency workers being used to run a limited service during the Woolwich Ferry strike.

The union has called on GLA members to give an assurance that the agency staffing arrangements along with the condition of the boats give no cause for concern as far as safety is concerned.

The strike began on Monday 24 October and ends on Friday 28 October. 87% of the workers who took part in the ballot voted for strike action. Unite is meeting TfL on Monday 31 October.

Unite general secretary, Sharon Graham said, “Rather than attempting to resolve this strike, TfL is just prolonging it by using poorly trained agency staff.

“TfL must realise by now that Unite is firmly behind the Woolwich Ferry workers. Unite representatives are meeting with TfL next week, we have an opportunity to end this dispute once and for all. Delaying tactics won’t work but negotiating a fair agreement will.”

Non-Permanent Labour ( NPLs ) are being used to run a limited service during the Woolwich Ferry strike. These staff are in fact agency staff. TfL has undertaken a much shortened training programme for the specific purpose of using these staff during the strike action. Labour opposed the legislation introduced regarding the use of agency staff during disputes but the Labour controlled TfL are still using the new legislation.

Unite national lead officer Onay Kasab added, “In the opinion of experienced workers on site, the shortened training given to agency staff means that they are nowhere near as well trained as the permanent staff. The workers are rightly demanding cast iron assurances from GLA members about safety.

“TfL are still failing these workers time and time again, bosses must use the upcoming meeting to end this dispute.”

The workers currently face a toxic combination of an employer refusing to discuss a pay deal for 2022, and management victimising and unfairly suspending workers on the service. Unite is challenging the inconsistent treatment of a number of older staff who have been unfairly suspended or dismissed. The service has also refused to discuss the over-reliance on agency workers and alternative working arrangements.

By Ciaran Naidoo

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