Woolwich ferry, photo BL2002/CC

Woolwich ferry, photo BL2002/CC   (Click to enlarge: opens in new window)

Workers who operate London’s Woolwich Ferry, used by an estimated 2.6 million passengers a year, are to strike for ten days in a dispute over pay, safety, and staffing.

The key issues are management’s refusal to grant a 6% pay increase for the year starting January 2019; imposition of new duties; failure to deal with safety concerns such as inoperable emergency fire pumps; and an inadequate number of staff.

General union Unite has announced 24-hour stoppages on 17, 20, 24, 28 and 31 May, and 3, 7, 10, 14 and 17 June. Two years ago, there was an acrimonious and long-running dispute with the same employer.

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